A woman wearing no makeup and dressed in a t-shirt and shorts saunters through her kitchen making hong shao rou, red-braised pork belly. In between bouts of cooking she attempts to cajole her son to share his toy Ferrari. In the new online world of video live streaming in China, it could be anyone.

Instead, it’s Chinese actress Yao Chen who agreed to live-stream from her home for local charity Free Lunch last Sunday, May 22. The fairly quotidian broadcast by Yao, who has more than 79 million followers on microblogging platform Weibo and starred in last year’s mega-hit Monster Hunt (China’s No. 2 movie of all time), went out live to 4.7 million people on Internet portal Sina’s live-streaming app called Yizhibo.

Yao’s celebrity-at-home appearance on Yizhibo gave it a big but fleeting advantage among the scores of apps to stream live video that are being downloaded and used in huge numbers in China, and is a testament to the all-pervasive nature of celebrity obsession. The Chinese apps are corollaries to American video streaming services Periscope, owned by Twitter,  and Facebook Live, both of which are blocked in mainland China.

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China Film Insider

China Film Insider is a trade publication that reports on the relationship between China’s film industry, Hollywood, and the rest of the world. It is a news website dedicated to bridging the gap of understanding...