The account of top China e-commerce livestreamer Li Jiaqi appears to have suspended all activity after showing an ice-cream tank on the eve of the Tiananmen Square anniversary.
June 4 marked the 33rd anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests, which resulted in a bloody crackdown of its thousands of peaceful participants — most of which were students — by the Chinese military.
The death toll of the protestors, who were demanding democratic reform, is estimated to have been in the hundreds, if not several thousands.
The event has been highly censored in Chinese media, with the government filtering out any mention of the protests, including disguised references to them such as candle emojis or coded phrases like “May 35.”
On Friday evening, Li and a co-host presented Viennetta brand ice cream to sell during a live broadcast.
On Jun 3rd, Chinese biggest influencer Li Jiaqi 李佳琦 presented a tank looking cake during his live stream and it was cut off immediately, people thought it was some software issue at first but soon they found out all the hashtags related to him on Weibo got censored as well. pic.twitter.com/nn7KwtvWWt
— Shia Majer (@ShiaMajer) June 6, 2022
The block of ice cream cake was put on a plate and then adorned with Oreos on its sides similar to wheels. On top of the ice cream block was a chocolate ball with a chocolate stick. The result was an ensemble of ice cream and chocolate that resembled the form of a tank.
The broadcast was streamed on the eve of the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests, and although Li most likely obliviously displayed the tank on his show, the Chinese government has been known to take censorship of the event very seriously.
Li’s Friday episode is not available on his Taobao, while his previous shows are.
The tank became a widely-recognized symbol of the pro-democracy protests after an iconic photo was taken of the famous “Tank Man,” a lone man in civilian clothing who stood in front of a line of Chinese military tanks at Tiananmen Square.
When I’m asked who my heroes are, there’s one I always try to include: a yet-unknown Chinese man who stood up to the Communist military, groceries in hand, just after the #TiananmenSquare massacre 33 years ago. #TankMan showed the world what bravery means.pic.twitter.com/6s0AU46jji
— Jerry Dunleavy (@JerryDunleavy) June 4, 2022
To his 50 million followers on Weibo, Li initially attributed the abrupt livestream cut to a “technical glitch” and assured that his team was working to resolve the issue.
Two hours later, Li announced that the live broadcast would not be resuming that evening due to “a failure of our internal equipment” and added, “Everybody please go to bed early. We will bring you the products that have not been broadcast (tonight) in future livestreams.”
Li, who has over 64 million followers on Taobao Live — a livestreaming platform on Taobao Marketplace — failed to appear for a scheduled live broadcast on Sunday evening, raising concerns from his fans.
Known as the “Lipstick King” for his cosmetics sales prowess, Li allegedly sold $1.9 billion worth of goods on the first day of Alibaba’s annual shopping festival in 2021.