What anger over top influencer says about China today
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Livestreamer Li Jiaqi’s response, that those who cannot afford the 79 yuan eyebrow pencil are not working hard enough, hit a raw nerve as China’s youth struggle to find jobs in a sputtering post-pandemic economy. It continues to fuel debate despite the 31-year-old’s apologies.

The price tag of 79 yuan didn’t sting people as much as your attitude and opinions toward us, according to a comment on Weibo.

It read, “You don’t know what the current economic climate is like. Many people are still working hard and struggling just to stay employed.”

Over the past six months, China’s economy has faced a stream of bad news. The youth unemployment rate has reached a record high. More than one in five 16-to-24-year-olds were homeless in July

One of China’s most successful salesmen, Li rose to fame in 2017 when he started hosting online sales sessions on Taobao. His products range from food to cosmetics and homeware, and he reportedly sells millions of dollars’ worth of items each night. He once sold 150,000 lipsticks within five minutes, earning him the moniker Lipstick King. Since his controversial comments, Li has lost some 150 million followers across multiple platforms.

Li’s comments show that his celebrity status has desensitized him to the struggles millions of young Chinese face, critics said. The anger has also provided a window into the disillusionment rampant among the country’s youth – one tweet read: “In social media comments responding to the Li Jiaqi incident, I saw a collapsing China.”