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    Chinese Influencers Banned Amid ‘Money Worship’ Clampdown

    The three influencers attracted millions of followers by flaunting their super-rich lifestyles. Then, they suddenly disappeared from every major Chinese social platform.

    They attracted millions of followers by flaunting the kinds of lifestyles their fans could only dream of: Unboxing Hermes bags, cruising in Rolls-Royces, and buying rare jades worth millions of dollars.

    But that kind of behavior was always risky in a country that is increasingly moving to crack down on “money worship” — and now three of the country’s top influencers appear to have paid the price.

    The online celebrities disappeared from every major Chinese social platform almost simultaneously on Tuesday, sparking a frenzy of online speculation and discussion. Their accounts on Douyin, Weibo, Xiaohongshu, and several other platforms are now locked.

    The platforms gave no specific reason for the bans, saying only that the influencers had violated community guidelines. But the move comes amid a renewed clampdown on influencers promoting hedonistic and materialistic values.

    Among the banned influencers is Wang Hongquanxing, a 31-year-old from northern China’s Hebei province who became famous for showing off his outrageously expensive jewelry collection. He had over 4.3 million followers on Douyin, China’s version of TikTok, before his cancellation.

    Wang would appear in videos dripping with pink diamonds, pearls the size of pigeon eggs, and exquisite jades. In interviews he claimed to own seven luxury apartments in Beijing and said that he never left the house unless his outfit was worth “eight digits” — or, in other words, at least 10,000,000 yuan ($1.4 million).

    In March, he opened a luxury goods store in Beijing, with a parade of online celebrities attending the opening ceremony. But Wang is not currently listed as a representative or shareholder of the jewelry company that owns the store.

    The other banned influencers are Sister Abalone — often referred to as “the richest woman on the internet” by her 2.3 million followers — who blew up on Douyin by giving video tours of her two luxury mansions in Macau, and a 25-year-old with over 3 million followers known as Mr. Bo. The latter was famous mostly for showcasing his collection of Hermes bags, luxury cars, and designer clothes.

    All three influencers converted their online fame into lucrative livestream e-commerce careers. Mr. Bo became extremely adept at flogging beauty products, with his shows generating average sales of 750,000 yuan to 1 million yuan during the past three months, according to data from livestream e-commerce data provider Chanmama. Wang’s shows — which also focused on selling beauty products — generated 2.5 million yuan to 5 million yuan on average in February and March.

    The sudden disappearance of the influencers has sparked heated discussion on China’s microblogging platform Weibo, with a related hashtag garnering over 210 million views.

    Many netizens expressed confusion about the ban, while fans of the influencers said they were disappointed to no longer be able to see their content. One of the most upvoted comments on Weibo read: “Wang is really wealthy, and through him I have learned about many high-end products that I had never been exposed to before.”

    However, the bans also attracted a significant amount of support. Many comments said the internet environment has become toxic in recent years, and questioned whether the influencers were truly as wealthy as they claimed.

    The cancellations come just days after China’s major social platforms simultaneously published updates on their efforts to combat content that promotes money worship, hedonistic lifestyles, and other “harmful values.”

    According to Douyin’s report, released on May 15, the platform deleted 4,701 pieces of content and 11 related accounts embodying “harmful values” during the first half of the month. This included one account featuring minors flaunting luxury goods and emphasizing their high prices.

    China’s internet watchdog has also been cracking down on content that flaunts wealth to attract traffic in recent years. The latest rectification campaign launched in April targets content that “caters to vulgar public demands and presents a wealthy image, deliberately showcasing a luxurious lifestyle to attract followers.”

    (Header image: Screenshots show some of the banned influencers flaunting luxury goods on their social channels. From Douyin)