A Chinese livestreamer’s show has gone silent on the Internet, triggering speculation that he might have offended censors as he showed a piece of cake shaped like a tank just before the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. The influencer Li Jiaqi, known popularly as “Brother Lipstick” as he once sold over 15,000 lipsticks in five minutes, has gained more than 64 million followers on Taobao Live.
On 3 June 2022, Li was livestreaming his promotion of a layered Viennetta ice cream, according to the BBC News . However, his livestream was abruptly disrupted after his assistant showed a “tank-like” cake on camera, which appeared to be made of chocolate bars and cookies, according to screenshots posted on Twitter. To which, Li immediately issued a statement on his Weibo account, stating that there was a technical error during his show. Approximately two hours later, he was seen apologising for not being able to continue his livestream show.
While Li’s previous shows were still available on Taobao’s livestreaming platform, Friday’s episode was missing, according to Bloomberg .
The incident then sparked curiosity and triggered public outcry over Chinese social platforms, with many doubting that Li might have been officially blocked by the authorities as he violated censors one day before the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square incident in 1989. Nothing new has been shared by the star since the incident, and according to The Straits Times , some search results for his name were being censored. On Weibo, many debates emerged to the show’s interruption with hashtags reaching over 100 million views, said ST . According to Meltwater, the incident saw negative sentiments emerge on Weibo and Twitter. Surprisingly, the matter also saw a fair bit of media coverage from the US.
The 4 June anniversary of the Tiananmen Square incident is a sensitive one for many Chinese citizens. Previously, Disney+ also removed an episode of The Simpsons which depicts the family visiting Beijing's Tiananmen Square. Multiple reports including The Guardian said episode 12 of season 16, which debuted in 2005, featured the cartoon family going to China to try and adopt a baby. During the same journey, they also visit Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.
In March this year, the Chinese government also announced its plans to crack down on tax evasion in the livestreaming industry and regulate livestreaming platforms, requiring the platforms to strengthen the management of livestraming account registration. China's State Taxation Administration announced that livestreamers and livestreaming platforms should maintain fair competition. They are not allowed to use fake marketing and self-tipping to help increase traffic, luring customers to buy products and tip.
The authority added that livestreaming platforms and service agencies will need to perform the obligation of withholding and paying personal income tax in accordance with the regulation, and are not able to pass on or evade the obligation of paying personal income tax, and shall not plan or help livestreamers to evade tax.
In the announcement, the State Taxation Administration added that livestreaming has played an important role in recent years in promoting flexible employment, but the industry also has several problems, including poor management by livestreaming platforms, irregular commercial marketing behaviour, tax evasion, damaging the industry's healthy development and social fairness and justice.
Disney+ reportedly removes The Simpsons Tiananmen Square episode