Web celebrity goes from binge drinking to 'image ambassador' of Chinese farmers

By Ji Yuqiao Source:Globaltimes.cn Published: 2019/12/24 3:36:59

Liu Shichao Photo: Ji Yuqiao/GT

Liu Shichao, better known by his network name "Hebei Pangzai" with more than 130,000 followers on Twitter, has begun to transform his videos from binge drinking to showing the daily life of Chinese rural areas to his worldwide fans.

"I will continue to upload short videos about drinking on social media to meet my fans' expectations, but more videos will reflect my life in villages," Liu told the Global Times. "If I have enough funds in the future, I will go across China to shoot a variety of Chinese cates for overseas netizens."

During the interview with Liu, he showed lots of interest in cooking. "My plan is to spread Chinese culinary culture to the world," he said. Having no idea what Twitter was several months ago, now Liu has realized his influence on social media.

Who is Liu Shichao?

Liu, 34, calls himself an ordinary Chinese farmer but has been dubbed as King by his fans on Twitter. He lives in the village of Xingtai, North China's Hebei Province, which is similar to most villages in northern China, with large areas of farmlands and bungalows next to each other.

Liu said that he dropped out of middle school as he "did not like learning and thought it was so boring." After quitting school, Liu started working on construction sites.

"At first, I did not have any skills so could only move bricks as a laborer on construction sites. Then I learned how to electro gas weld and got paid more," he recalled.

The building worker is only one of the jobs that Liu has had. He also worked in a meat processing plant in 2004. "I had to stand beside a huge oven and the indoor temperature was above 40 C. My daily salary was 10 yuan ($1.4) at that time."

Liu filmed his first video, drinking seven bottles of beer in 50 seconds, three years ago when he opened a buffet restaurant, and uploaded the video on Kuaishou, one of China's short video platforms.

At his peak, Liu had 470,000 followers and could get up to 10,000 yuan each month in gratuity.

"Making short videos is better than other jobs I had ever worked on," he said. Liu admitted that more income and a "higher level" of making videos attracted him to running his own video account.

What happened after going viral?

Liu was told that he went viral on Twitter in August, but at that time he did not even know what Twitter was. He with his younger brother, who makes short videos about fitness, researched the social media platform for three days before finally registering his account.

Liu's tornado drinking style and incredible drinking speed astonished overseas netizens who referred to him as King. "More than 10,000 netizens followed my Twitter account in one day, which is my record," Liu said.

The Chinese farmer has made some foreign friends through sharing videos. Some of his fans voluntarily help him edit English content as his language skills are poor. And a student from the US asked to talk with him on WeChat to practice Chinese.

As the number of fans increases, Liu wants to attract more followers and has been researching what netizens like to watch.

He surprisingly found that reaction to videos about his daily life in the village is beyond expectations. When Liu is with his families in the videos, most netizens send best wishes in the comments.

"My family is four generations under one roof and all of us live so closely. I think my overseas fans feel envious when they see our harmony and lovely family in videos," Liu said, and that's what he wants to show them.

As binge drinking is bad for his health, Liu's wife and other family members strongly object to him continuing to shoot such videos. "We quarreled for this reason several times, and now I have cut back on making drinking videos and show more about my pastoral life."

Liu wants to build his professional group to make short videos and run social media accounts in the future, and his brother also believes that if they work as a group, their videos will be of better quality.

Now Liu seems to enjoy his fame on Twitter. "I read comments under videos and try to interact with them. There are also bad comments, but I don't care. I think I can change these antis' minds through sincerely talking with them," he said.

Short videos in Chinese rural areas

Liu and his brother are the epitome of young people living in Chinese rural areas, who spend lots of time on short video platforms each day, whether watching or posting videos.

"This is an age of short video and live streaming in China," Liu said.

30-year-old Chang Qingqing, a shop owner in Liu's village, told the Global Times that when she does not have customers, she watches short videos on her mobile phone, "at least two hours a day," she said.

Liu's brother said that compared with choosing out-migration for work years ago, more young people from Chinese rural areas prefer coming back home to start a business.

Shooting short videos and live-streaming appeals to young people from small cities. It also offers them a higher income, so they have become the top choices for those wanting to start businesses in their hometowns.

A Global Times reporter stayed in a small hotel in a county of Central China's Henan Province in May and heard several people in other rooms live-streaming and interacting with their audiences the whole night.

"This is a trend and I hope it can bring more young people back, which might relieve the problem of leftover children and seniors," Liu said.

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