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China’s leading shopping livestreamer Li Jiaqi has returned to the e-commerce platform nearly four months after his information was abruptly cut off, in what viewers suspect has something to do with his blunder. tin cake.

plum, Also known as the lipstick king He briefly appeared on Alibaba Group’s Taobao marketplace on Tuesday night for his ability to move large quantities of products across sales channels.

The two-hour appearance was unannounced, but news of his return quickly spread online. Viewers reportedly grew from around 100,000 to over 50 million from 7pm to 9pm. Sitting with co-anchor Wang Wang, Li appeared softer than usual as he promoted a range of basic items including a phone holder, sneakers and cleaning supplies.

He starts by welcoming viewers and thanking them for their support, urging them to consume “rationally”, before quickly moving into the sales portion of the broadcast.

related: ‘Oh my God, buy it!’ China’s live-streaming shopping stars at risk of censorship

“I don’t think he’s opening up,” one commenter commented. “They looked very cautious,” another said. “so sad!”

Few comments discussed his disappearance, but some suggested general caution. Someone asked: “What happened to Li Jiaqi?” Another replied: “It’s not his fault, but it’s better not to know. Who knows the inside story of his disappearance and why he came back? Please give me more details, please!”

Li has not appeared online since June 3 this year, when his feed is suddenly cut offHe blamed technical issues, but viewers widely speculated that the operator deliberately terminated the livestream after a cake resembling a military tank appeared on the screen. Images of tanks are often used to reference the Tiananmen Square massacre on June 4, 1989, a date that is highly sensitive in China.

Discussion of the killing of an undisclosed number of student protesters by Chinese authorities in Beijing is prohibited and censorship so severe that many in China know little or nothing about the incident. Ironically, Lee’s livestream was cut, prompting many viewers to start looking for the significance of the tank reference at the time. For clarity, his return seems to have sparked a similar exploration.

“What happened? I couldn’t find anything on Baidu,” one person pointed out on Tuesday. “Some things can’t be said, and Baidu can’t find them.”

Li, one of China’s top three shopping livestreamers, has become a national celebrity by anchoring broadcasts akin to high-tech versions of the TV shopping channels of the 1980s and 1990s, moving a slew of products.

On platforms such as Taobao and Douyin (China’s TikTok), anchors spend billions of dollars on interactive live broadcasts. Livestreaming accounts for 10 percent of China’s e-commerce revenue and is the basis for large shopping and sales events, according to management consultancy McKinsey & Company.

Lee’s governing body, Mieone, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Additional reporting by Chi Huilin