Chinese Whispers

Life on the margins pt II: Li Ziqi and the phenomenon of the rural influencer

23 min listen

In This Episode

In the last episode, I discussed Chinese rural lives with Professor Scott Rozelle. One point he made which particularly stuck with me was the dying out of farming as an occuption – he’d said that most rural people under the age of 35 have never farmed a day in their lives.

So that got me thinking, what do they do instead? In this episode I’ll be looking at one, very high profile, alternative – vlogging. I’ve noticed through my hours of scrolling through Chinese social media that there is a huge genre of rural, pastoral content. 

This is an interesting phenomenon both for what it says about the rural population today, as well as what it reveals about the – often – urban viewers on the other end. So today I’m joined by Yi-Ling Liu, a writer on Chinese society who has had bylines in the New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine and WIRED. She’s looked in detail at the phenomenon of the rural influencer.

On the episode, we talk about a few of our favourite rural influencers. You can watch Li Ziqi’s videos on YouTube here and 王大姐来了 (the middle aged rappers I mention) here.