Death of China's 'little match boy' causes controversy over unseen tragedy of needy
Published: Jan 24, 2021 09:53 PM

Photo: Screenshot of Mocha's profile page on Bilibili


The death of a young Chinese livestreamer who suffered from chronic diseases, poverty and loneliness caused heated debate on Chinese social media on Sunday. 

The unfortunate young man was still optimistic in the last minutes of his life, but netizens were engulfed with anger over his family, whose irresponsible behavior and indifference were suspected to have mainly caused his death. 

The 22-year-old, who used the name Mocha on video platform Bilibili, was found dead, alone in his rental home, on January 10 in Huili county, Southwest China's Sichuan Province. He had been out of contact with his online friends since January 4. 

Authorities in Huili county confirmed on Friday that Mocha had died of illness. His mother told the media on Saturday that he was diagnosed with a nasal tumor in 2020 and was later found, during his hospitalization, to have also suffered from diabetes, hypertension and other diseases.

Mocha's story first made a splash on social media after another Bilibili video producer posted his life story on Tuesday. 

According to the post, Mocha had long been mired in destitution and illness after his parents left him alone to run away from family debt disputes. He dropped out of high school and started working to make a living but did not get his salary paid on time. After being diagnosed with the tumor, he turned to game livestreaming on Bilibili with the help of his internet friends, but it did not seem to go well, considering he only got 100 followers within five months. 

Mocha's mother denied that the family was poor or had abandoned him, saying that Mocha's father paid for his tumor surgery, and that it was his intense and distant relationship with his divorced parents that led him to live alone.

But the response did not convince netizens, who slammed the parents for failing to fulfill their responsibility of supporting Mocha economically and mentally, causing him to die alone in poverty. 

"He had parents, but he was more like an orphan" was one of the most-liked comments on a Sina Weibo post about Mocha's story.   

He was not a boy any more, but his situation could be described as that of a "little match boy," said a Weibo user. 

Netizens also rushed to Mocha's Bilibili account where the man recorded his daily life - managing to do game livestreaming despite being in pain, longing to eat strawberries while being unable to afford them. His account now has over 1 million followers and the comment sections of his videos are full of "RIP" and crying emojis. 

Netizens have called for more attention to be paid to such invisible people who live miserable lives. As they are adults, their hardships are mostly hidden, unlike those of teens and children. 

"His parents are apparently delinquent, but maybe his neighbors and community workers could have saved him if there was a mechanism to discover and support people like 'Mocha,'" commented one netizen on Weibo. 

Some suggested public charity platforms as possible channels for people like him to seek help.  

Global Times