One of China’s top blogger has remained silent after livestreaming images of an apparently tank-shaped cake just before the anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown, sparking debate over the highly sensitive event among tens of millions young fans.
Any discussion of the June 4, 1989 crackdown, when China launched troops and tanks at peaceful protesters, is virtually banned on the mainland.
Li Jiaqi, a household name in China whose shows regularly draw millions of viewers, had his broadcast abruptly cut short on Friday when he appeared to present an ice cream cake with chocolate decorations that looked like a tank, just a few hours before the start of the anniversary.
Nothing has been posted by the star online since that broadcast, while some search results for her name were censored.
Many young viewers were stunned by Li’s disappearance, especially after he also failed to show up for a scheduled show on Sunday.
Beijing has gone to great lengths to erase the bloody Tiananmen crackdown from collective memory, omitting it from history textbooks and censoring online discussions.
Social media platform Weibo saw heated debate on Monday over why the show was discontinued, with hashtags reaching more than 100 million views.
Many users speculated whether Li was permanently banned from live streaming or knew about the symbolic date.
The online star, who was born in 1992 and made a name for selling lipsticks fast, is widely appealing to waves of young, mostly female fans.
Many said they first heard about the 1989 crackdown after researching the significance of its disappearance from the virtual airwaves.
A Weibo user reassured anxious fans by asking what happened as the star just “discussed a sensitive subject”.
The famous ‘tank man’ photo – showing a lone man standing in front of tanks sent to crush dissent in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989 – is so heavily censored in China that many young Chinese are unaware of its existence or its meaning.
“Many people don’t know the story behind this cake,” one user wrote.
Another said the incident prompted many young people to use virtual private networks to circumvent strict censorship rules to seek repression.
Others have speculated that Li Jiaqi himself was probably too young to understand the meaning of the cake.
“He doesn’t know, we never taught him that at school,” wrote one user.
“Now it’s come to this.”
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)