Chinese YouTube star dismisses claim she makes $33mil a year



One of China's most popular YouTube stars, who gained a large international following for her videos showcasing traditional rural life, has dismissed claims she makes 168 million yuan a year.

Li Ziqi, 29, became one of China's most popular celebrities last year, reaching 9 million followers on YouTube, where her cinematic videos celebrating rustic life in Sichuan province have attracted millions of views.

She also has 34 million subscribers on Douyin, China's top short video app, 22 million followers on the microblogging site Weibo and last month was praised by state media for helping to promote traditional Chinese culture to an international audience.

On Thursday, news portal Thepaper.cn reported that her company Hangzhou Weinian Technology had rejected an estimate of her annual earnings published last month on Weibo by a tech industry blogger.

The report said the blogger, whose real name is unknown, had apologised and deleted the post.

Li makes money through advertising revenue and the sale of products such as noodles and sauces.

The article claimed that Weinian - which helps market her work - earned 6.7 million yuan through YouTube and 336 million yuan from the online shopping platform Tmall.

Li has a 49 per cent stake in the company, so her share of the total was estimated to be 168 million.

The blogger later admitted that his figure was not precise, and did not account for taxes and various costs, but the article continued to go viral online.

The company's statement said the estimated revenues from Tmall, which is owned by Alibaba, were lower than the blogger's estimates and profit rates in the food industry were also low.

It also said the estimated YouTube revenues were also too high, because it has to pay the platform and spend money safeguarding its intellectual property rights.

It did not say how much Li, or the company, had actually made.

Last month Li was at the centre of an intense debate about the image of China and its culture she presented.

Some critics accused her of presenting an "outdated" image of the country, but state broadcaster CCTV and People's Daily praised her for "telling a good China story".

Two weeks ago Li was named as an ambassador for a Communist Youth League as part of an initiative to help rural youth become rich.

Source: South China Morning Post

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