As an outgoing foreigner, Chinese friends inevitably tell me I should become a wanghong, an internet celebrity along the lines of a Karshasian, a Kloss or a Pewdiepie. But a streamer’s life isn’t all free trips and unlimited product samples. This longform dive into the life of e-commerce livestreamers shows the downside of internet fame in China, how market pressures end up turning livestreaming into something all-consuming.

So who is Li Jiaqi?

Li is leading the charge of men building fashion brands aimed primarily at female customers. Over the past three years, he has gone from a beauty sales assistant with a monthly salary of RMB 6,000/month (about $880) to someone so famous he can outsell Jack Ma on a lipstick livestream battle. Li, who also goes by Austin, makes his living mostly through live streaming on Alibaba’s Taobao platform (a Chinese e-commerce innovation that helped the platform leave Amazon China in the dust). He also has a big presence on Douyin, where he’s received over one hundred million likes and amassed 22 million followers.

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Jordan Schneider

Jordan Schneider is a freelancer based in Beijing and the host of the ChinaEconTalk podcast.