China’s ‘Lipstick King’ Austin Li Jiaqi abruptly halts Taobao live-streaming show

Taobao, China’s biggest online shopping platform, had experienced a 20-minute system breakdown in October last year, as it kicked off presales for Singles’ Day in November. Taobao attributed that system crash, which was fixed within 20 minutes, to heavy traffic generated by “overenthusiastic” consumers.

The stakes are high for Li, who turns 30 on June 7, because he has become the most prominent face of China’s booming live-streaming e-commerce sector.

Known as China’s “Lipstick King”, Li once sold 15,000 lipsticks in just five minutes on Taobao’s live-streaming platform.

Li is now also recognised as a major asset for Alibaba after he sold US$1.9 billion worth of goods on the first day of presales leading up to Singles’ Day last November. His shows have become key to attracting more online shoppers from Taobao competitors such as ByteDance-owned Douyin, the Chinese version of hit short video platform TikTok.

Still, Li has also experienced some negative publicity. A Zhejiang consumer rights watchdog last December named and shamed Li and other well-known live-streamers for certain violations. The Zhejiang Consumer Council said Li’s infraction was for selling products that were incorrectly labelled. Other streamers were denounced for exaggerated sales pitches and obscene gestures, among other violations.

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