Chinese TikTok Star Guo Laoshi Banned as Country's Entertainment Purge Continues

An unconventional livestreamer with more than seven million followers on Douyin—China's version of TikTok—was removed from social media websites without warning on Thursday as regulators continued to purge the country's entertainment industry.

Social media users who have been watching some of the profound changes over the past week have begun to question what constitutes the right type of entertainment in the eyes of the country's ruling party leadership.

The streamer in her 20s, known as Guo Laoshi, or "Teacher Guo," gained a cult following on Douyin and other sites for her style as an "anti-celebrity," someone who didn't conform to popular norms because she wore no makeup and rejected a typical feminine image.

Guo, from Hubei province in central China, filmed herself lip-syncing pop songs and making odd expressions while trying new foods. She sometimes made headlines by smelling her own feet or doing other performative comedy in her short videos.

Her millions of followers learned of her fate when a screenshot posted to her personal Weibo account showed that she had been "permanently banned" from Douyin for "violating community guidelines."

Unaware of the exact rules she had broken, Guo wrote: "Give me an explanation. I'm innocent."

Her Weibo account was suspended shortly after, but it is unclear whether the ban is permanent.

Users following the recent sweeping cleanup of China's internet and celebrity culture saw Guo's fate as part of this ongoing purge. But some who were not fans questioned whether the regulation campaign was going too far.

"Why ban her? She never stole and never cheated. If you felt her content was beneath you, you didn't have to watch her," one user wrote.

"The entire viral internet industry is going down," another commented.

A third Weibo user said: "She went viral for no reason and had a cult following for no reason. She should've been banned ages ago."

China's National Radio and Television Administration (NTRA) told broadcasters on Thursday that the salaries of the country's megastars needed regulating and that tax evaders should be punished.

The broadcast watchdog's new guidelines will prohibit content that is considered "vulgar" or "unhealthy," with the campaign seeking to cultivate an atmosphere of nationalism by removing from platforms celebrities whose views are regarded as politically incorrect—or diverging from the government's strict line.

Toxic and harmful celebrity fan culture is also in the firing line following last Friday's order by the Cyberspace Administration of China to discourage personality cults. On Wednesday, Douyin said it had removed 1,900 fan groups used to spread celebrity gossip and rumors.

Also on Thursday, China's Culture Ministry called for livestreamers and other internet celebrities to undergo professional ethics training in order to uphold a certain level of moral discipline. Acceptable conduct and style are also to be regulated.

China's internet crackdown comes as the fate of high-profile Chinese actor Zhao Wei remains shrouded in mystery. Her professional works were scrubbed from popular streaming platforms last Thursday without explanation, and she is yet to accused of any wrongdoing.

Livestreamer Banned As China Cleans Celebrity Culture
PARIS, FRANCE - DECEMBER 26: In this photo illustration the logo of Chinese media app for creating and sharing short videos, TikTok, also known as Douyin is displayed on the screen of a smartphone in front of a Chinese flag on December 26, 2019 in Paris, France. The social media app TikTok developed by Chinese company ByteDance continues its meteoric rise and exceeded the milestone of 1.5 billion downloads. Tik Tok now surpasses Facebook and Instagram. (Photo by/) Chesnot/Getty Images for BAFTA LA