Chinese internet star Li Ziqi sets Guinness World Record for YouTube subscribers with rural lifestyle show

Phoebe Zhang
·2-min read

Chinese internet culinary sensation Li Ziqi has set a record for “Most subscribers for a Chinese-language channel on YouTube”, Guinness World Records announced on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like service on Tuesday night.

She was listed in the records in July with 11.4 million subscribers and had gone up to 14.1 million by the end of January, the post said.

“The poetic and idyllic lifestyle and the exquisite traditional Chinese culture shown in Li’s videos have attracted fans from all over the world, with many YouTubers commenting in praise,” the post said. “The culture that her videos conveyed is travelling further.”

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Chinese netizens reacted with praise, with a related hashtag on Weibo being read over 720 million times by Wednesday morning.

“Li definitely made Westerners understand Chinese culture better, she has done a great job exerting soft power,” one comment said.

“When I watched her videos, I felt calm, quiet, beautiful. In her videos, I could hear birds chirping, that’s the sound of nature,” another said.

Li Ziqi’s videos have a cinematic quality. Photo: Li Ziqi
Li Ziqi’s videos have a cinematic quality. Photo: Li Ziqi

In 2012, Li decided to stay in her hometown in southwest China’s Sichuan province to take care of her sick grandmother, who had raised her. In 2015, she decided to make cooking videos to show her life in the picturesque countryside.

When making food, she shows the entire process of how the crop is grown, harvested and cooked. The images of her doing chores such as feeding animals, preparing a meal for her grandmother or making silk garments are picture-perfect, portraying a simple life in the countryside.

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Li has turned her videos into a successful business, with more than five million fans following her online shop on Taobao, operated by the Alibaba Group (which owns the South China Morning Post).

She launched her YouTube channel in 2017, with a video on making a dress out of grape skins. Her videos portray a picture postcard image of China.

Li’s rural videos strike a chord with her followers. Photo: Li Ziqi
Li’s rural videos strike a chord with her followers. Photo: Li Ziqi

“I love watching grandma just sitting in the sun and eating all the delicious things Lizi makes her,” one commenter said.

“This channel has an aesthetic sensibility beyond anything I have ever seen. Thank you Li Ziqi for sharing your abundant skills and appreciation of all aspects of nature,” another said.

She posted a video last month making pickled vegetables, using the hashtags #ChineseCuisine and #ChineseFood, and found herself embroiled in an international social media storm, with South Korean and Chinese netizens arguing over the origins of kimchi.

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