Slovakian YouTuber cyber bullied for speaking out about China
Becoming a target
Published: Sep 22, 2021 06:23 PM
Influencer Martina Gdovinova (center) poses for a picture dressed in a traditional Chinese costume. Above: Screenshot of Gdovinova's Sina Weibo account Photos: Courtesy of Martina Gdovinova

Influencer Martina Gdovinova (center) poses for a picture dressed in a traditional Chinese costume. Photo: Courtesy of Martina Gdovinova

Influencer Martina Gdovinova (center) poses for a picture dressed in a traditional Chinese costume. Above: Screenshot of Gdovinova's Sina Weibo account Photos: Courtesy of Martina Gdovinova

 Screenshot of Gdovinova's Sina Weibo account Photo: Courtesy of Martina Gdovinova

"Guys, I am being cyber bullied by my own country after my country's largest newspaper defamed me by saying that 'I am funded by the Chinese government.' My future has been ruined," a 26-year-old Slovakian girl currently living in China says with tears in her eyes in a video on YouTube. 

"After the biased article about me spreading propaganda, I received many negative comments from some Slovaks. At that time, I felt like a whole country hated me because of that report," Martina Gdovinova told the Global Times.

Cultural attachment

Gdovinova came to China in 2015 to learn Chinese because of her strong interest in Chinese culture. Due to the beautiful memories she made in the country, she decided to continue her master's degree in Zhejiang University, East China's Zhejiang Province.

"I've been fascinated with Chinese culture since childhood. I enjoyed watching Jackie Chan's movies," Gdovinova said.

Gdovinova said she enjoys traveling across China and experiencing different local customs. 

"After moving to Hangzhou, I became affiliated with traditional Chinese dresses. I make many videos about hanfu (a type of traditional Chinese costume) and am learning more about it. I am very excited that autumn is back and I can go out to the West Lake and wear hanfu with my Chinese friends," she said. 

In order to contribute to cultural exchanges between China and Slovakia, Gdovinova started to make some videos about the two countries' cultures on social media. She currently has more than 577,000 followers on Chinese video-sharing platform Bilibili as well as 26,000 followers on YouTube. 

A heartbroken hit 

"When the coronavirus pandemic started, I made one video showing the actual situation in China for my parents. I showed them that we were safe and they didn't need to worry about me. After publishing that video, one Chinese fan drew a comic about my story. It was very touching and beautiful," Gdovinova said, adding that she received many warmhearted messages from her followers until Dennik N, one of the most influential newspapers in Slovakia, published an article titled "Slovakia Influencer Helping Chinese Propaganda." 

On the same day, another media outlet,, published a similar article. 

In the Dennik N article, a journalist who Gdovinova claims is from an anti-China organization based in the Czech Republic, accused the influencer of getting "paid by the Chinese government" since she praised China's anti-pandemic measures and expressed her support for a boycott of brands "tarnishing the image of China" and spreading "fake news" about Xinjiang cotton. 

"After seeing many YouTubers living in China getting accused of being paid by the Communist Party of China, I thought I might be next. Still, I was expecting maybe a hateful video on YouTube or a Twitter post, not a story in one of the most influential papers in my country!" explained Gdovinova. 

"I was shocked that such a big media outlet like Dennik N had no problem publishing such a hateful and biased story that could damage my life without clear evidence. It was an eye-opening experience." 

Fighting back 

"Hating on China-based YouTubers is a trend right now. I am scared to think about who is going to be the next victim," Gdovinova said. 

It is indeed true that she is not the first foreign person in China who has been targeted by Western media. German blogger Navina Heyden and British father and son team Lee Barrett and Oli Barrett also suffered the same abuse from media in the West, just because they presented the good experiences they had while living in the country, which contrasts with the prevailing Western media narrative.

In rebuttal, Gdovinova made a video refuting the controversial topics of the article. Concerning the pandemic videos, she explained, "I have been in China the whole time since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 until now, so I am qualified to say that China did a fantastic job at fighting the virus, and the Western society has a lot to learn from China. China made a lot of sacrifices at the beginning, and it paid off."

After receiving a lot of legal advice from her friend Diana, Gdovinova texted the media outlet and wrote a full report calling the content in the article lies. In response, took down the story the next day. However, Dennik N hasn't responded to her yet, and she said, "we'll probably go straight to court." 

Gdovinova said she was originally having a difficult time gathering the courage to face this heartbreaking experience, but after she opened her private messages on Instagram and saw many comments from Slovak people supporting her and encouraging her to continue, she found the motivation to go on. 

"They shared their life stories with me. Some of them were scared of sharing their positive opinions about China publicly. That experience pushed me to film my video encouraging them not to hide their views and opinions about China."