With some 50 million followers in China and another 8 million overseas, Li Ziqi is a global food media giant.
She has a seemingly vast knowledge of traditional craft, foraging and cooking and her videos are watched millions of times around the world. From making traditional bamboo furniture to raising baby ducklings so she can make a sauce from salted duck eggs, Li Ziqi has a rural skillset that would put even hardened western survivalists to shame.
With such massive popularity and lack of details about who Li Ziqi is, her background and how she manages to create such high-quality videos, supposedly single-handedly, there has been inevitable speculation.
The South China Morning Post's Golden Thread team released a video with an exclusive interview with Li Ziqi. They travelled to rural Sichuan province to where Li Ziqi lives to meet her. However, the interview fails to uncover any of the details that people want to know.
We hear that when Li Ziqi was young she “moved to the city” to work, but was unhappy so moved back to the countryside. There’s almost nothing on how Li Ziqi learned to make professional-quality videos and manage social media channels, including YouTube which is restricted in China and build up nearly 60 million followers.
Many have claimed that Li Ziqi’s story is almost too good to be true. While she now admits to working with one videographer and one assistant, she claims all the early work was created by her alone. Some suggest that Li Ziqi has significant backing and that her promotion of traditional values and a simpler way of life is part of a broader plan by the government to promote Chinese culture at home and abroad.
Li Ziqi is not the only food vlogger attracting millions of views all over the world. Dianxi Xiaoge is a more food-focused video star with almost five million followers. The fact that both these personalities promote wholesome, traditional Chinese values and self-sufficiency may be mere coincidence.
Then again, does it really matter? Both. Dianxi Xiaoge and Li Ziqi’s videos are beautiful and it’s very easy to lose hours lost in the idyllic setting of rural China and the traditional way of doing things.