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China Trends: YouTuber accused as copycat and a legal battle with chili sauce queen

Inkstone logo Inkstone 2/7/2020
© YouTube/ Bếp Trên Đỉnh Đồi Every Tuesday and Thursday, China Trends takes the pulse of the Chinese social media to keep you in the loop of what the world's biggest internet population is talking about.

Is this Vietnamese YouTube star a copycat?

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A Vietnamese YouTuber has sparked anger in China for publishing videos that closely resemble the works of Li Ziqi, one of China's biggest internet stars.

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The YouTube channel named Bếp TrEn Đỉnh Đồi, or "kitchen on the hill," has published videos featuring a young woman working in the fields and making food in a tranquil rural setting.

The style, storyline, background music and the clothes and hairstyle of the main character all bear a striking resemblance to Li Ziqi's videos.

The 27 videos published since May 2019 have got millions of views and, as of July 1, the channel had more than 188,000 followers.

Li Ziqi, who has 11.1 million followers on YouTube, has been hailed by state media as a symbol of the country's cultural influence abroad.

YouTube is blocked in China, but clips of the Vietnamese channel were posted on the Twitter-like Weibo recently, leading to outrage over the alleged plagiarism.

"Is it a clone? This is so creepy," a Weibo user commented.

Some internet users have pointed out that Chinese entertainment shows have also been accused of copying Korean programs.

"That's like how Koreans look at our stuff," another Weibo user wrote.

Li Ziqi posted her first video on YouTube in August 2017 while Bếp TrEn Đỉnh Đồi started in March of 2020.

Chili sauce queen vs. internet giant

a close up of a bottle © Provided by Inkstone

A legal battle between China's renowned chili sauce maker Lao Gan Ma and the internet giant Tencent is becoming popcorn-eating entertainment for much of China's internet.

A Chinese court has approved Tencent's request to freeze Lao Gan Ma's assets worth 16.2 million yuan ($2.3 million), according to a court document released on June 29.

Tencent said Lao Gan Ma had failed to pay for its advertisements on Tencent's platforms. But Lao Gan Ma denied it had any business cooperation with Tencent, and said it had reported the case to the police.

On July 1, police in the southwestern city of Guiyang said three people had been detained for forging a Lao Gan Ma stamp to sign a contract with Tencent. Their aim was to obtain Tencent's online gaming gifts that came with the advertising campaign, police said in an online statement.

Tencent owns the ubiquitous messaging app WeChat, while Lao Gan Ma's signature chili and oil sauce has a loyal following around the world. Its founder Tao Huabi, whose picture is printed on every bottle of sauce, is known as China's hot sauce queen.

"I can live without Tencent, but I cannot live without Lao Gan Ma," a user commented on Weibo.

"Lao Gan Ma really does not need to spend millions on advertising," another person said.

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