Blogger in China accused of inventing poor farm boy to build following

Chinese vlogger summoned by authorities after posting video showing an ‘orphan’ with a dirt-covered face telling an allegedly made-up sad story to boost online traffic.
PHOTO: Baidu

A man in China is being questioned by police over a video allegedly showing a young boy being forced to work for neighbours to earn money to take care of his siblings after their parents died.

The video, uploaded by a man surnamed Lu over the weekend, shows the boy standing in front of a run-down shack and received more than 100,000 likes and 35,000 comments, the Sichuan Daily reported.

At the end of the video, Lu says he donated some shoes, clothes and study items to the boy, saying “what uncle can do is just this”.

The government of Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan, southwestern China, said the footage is groundless, accusing the man of making the video to win public sympathy and attract traffic to his video. Lu was told to delete the video immediately and make a public apology, the report said.

The alleged hut where the boy lived according to the video.
PHOTO: Baidu

The video received a lot of attention in Meigu county, where the boy lives. The county had been referred to as one of China’s most “deeply impoverished” in the past due to difficult access to the mountainous regions, low levels of education, and a high density of ethnic minorities.

Last year, the county claimed all its residents had been lifted out of poverty, Sichuan TV reported.

According to local authorities, the man found the boy named Jikeerbu in a village, made his face dirty, and had him narrate a pre-scripted personal experience in front of the camera.

The truth, according to local authorities, is that the boy, his brother, and two sisters live with their grandpa after their father died and their mother remarried. Each of the four siblings receives 631 yuan (S$133) per each month per head from the government under a scheme that supports as “extremely poor children” in addition to another monthly subsidy of 900 yuan (US$141) per person as children deemed “without adults to take care of them”, the newspaper reported.

The family reportedly also moved to a concrete two-floored house years ago thanks to a poverty-alleviation initiative.

“Don’t consume our sympathy,” wrote a user on the video site Douyin.

“No one will make donations in future,” another person said. “These fake videos selling miserable stories have harmed people who really need help.”

Domestic media have repeatedly reported on doctored videos being made by people hoping to grab eyeballs online.

Hubei police detained a man last year for “harming social order” after he released a video clip showing a house collapsed near a river in the region. He admitted to the police that he edited the video “just for fun”.

This article was first published in South China Morning Post.