China KOL berated for taking cash tips while live-streaming from rescue boat in severe floods

An online influencer in China has been denounced for live-streaming and accepting tips while she sat in a rescue boat during severe flooding in the south of the country.

The incident took place in Liuzhou, Guangxi province, after the area was hit by heavy flooding.

Conditions were so bad that the Nanning branch of Blue Sky Rescue, China’s largest non-governmental humanitarian organisation, had to launch rescue operations on June 19.

It soon emerged that an internet celebrity, surnamed Zhang, also known as “Dabao in Liuzhou” and has more than 230,000 followers on Douyin, was live-streaming from a rescue boat and receiving cash tips online.

Zhang was wearing a life jacket and using beauty filters as she broadcast.

Zhang has been unrepentant about her actions during the floods which were among the worst in recent times. Photo: Douyin

She continuously focused the camera on herself rather than on the rescue efforts and flooding as she live-streamed.

It is unclear how long Zhang live-streamed for or how much she made in tips from viewers.

After complaints from people watching her, the rescue team requested she leave the boat.

However, the controversy continued.

On July 7, the Blue Sky Rescue Team issued a statement explaining that the influencer had been invited by their captain, surnamed Zhao, “to document the rescue process and efforts”.

However, they discovered that the influencer’s social media account was personal and she did not feature the large-scale rescue scenes as they had hoped.

At this point, Zhang “chose” to leave the boat.

“The tips she received during the live-stream have no connection to our organisation,” the rescue team added.

The influencer told Zonglan News that she was friends with members of the rescue team and confirmed that she had been invited to live-stream the operation.

As the controversy raged, Zhang claimed it had been technically difficult to disable the live-stream tipping function while she was on the boat, adding that she had to focus the camera on herself to avoid platform violations.

“I was holding the phone with one hand and gripping the handrail with the other. The speed of the boat made it impossible to turn off the tips function while assuring my personal safety,” she said.

“The live-stream lasted for only half an hour, and I hardly received any tips,” Zhang added.

As floods engulfed landmarks in the area Zhang kept the live-stream camera focused on herself. Photo: Douyin

The influencer, who has not apologised, also said: “People can say whatever they want. If you’re doing nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear.”

Her attitude has triggered anger online.

“The rescue scene turned into a show for the influencer to make money from tips, which is truly despicable!” said one online observer.

While another added: “The issue is that bringing one more person on the rescue boat means rescuing one less person! The rescue team was unprofessional.”

“A rescue scene is not a live-stream room. Please show some respect for the rescue operation,” said a third.



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