The old proverb of “Kill the hen to scare the monkeys” recalls the Chinese regime’s campaign to bring its burgeoning and influential tech industry under control for the sake of “Common prosperity” proclaimed by President Xi Jinping. Following monopoly investigations and multi-million dollar penalties Against e-commerce giants like Alibaba and Meituan, it’s up to your celebrities.
To the most famous internet seller in China, known as Viya, one just dropped it record fine of 1.34 billion yuan (185 million euros) for tax evasion. Specifically, the authorities accuse her of not having paid between 2019 and 2020 just over half of
that figure, 700 million yuan (97 million euros), hiding your sales commissions or declaring your personal income as corporate.
As there is little room for maneuver in China to defend oneself in court, Viya has been quick to abide by the fine to avoid going to jail and he has promised to regularize his tax situation by taxing 45 percent of his income, the maximum in this country. What he has not gotten rid of is the censorship of his sales program on the Taobao internet portal and his account on the Weibo social network, inaccessible since last week.
As a public warning, the biggest influencer in live internet sales falls. To their 36 years, and real name Huang Wei, Viya is an authentic machine to sell everything they throw at it: from clothes to cars to perfumes, household items and even the sponsorship of a rocket ship.
On the last Singles’ Day, the world’s largest online sales day, Viya and his team checked in on their own 8.5 billion yuans (1,177 million euros) in a 14-hour live session. Although it is more than many department stores make in a whole year, it supposes just a fraction of the 38.6 billion yuan (5,350 million euros) that he sold last year on Taobao. His fame is such that, for Singles Day 2019, Kim Kardashian chose her to present together his new perfume live in China, of which Viya sold 15,000 bottles in just five minutes. For this event, to which ABC was invited by Alibaba, this correspondent was able to verify in his study the commercial ability of Viya, who through the screen sold one product after another like a submachine gun to his legion of followers on the internet.
Viya left her poor Anhui province at the age of 16 and went to work in Beijing, where learned his business skills in a market. After going through many hardships during the SARS epidemic in 2003, when she was unemployed, she opened a clothing store with her husband and even tried her luck in a music group. But he realized that his thing was to sell– and especially on the internet, when the e-commerce giant Taobao recruited her in 2016.
Working more than 300 days a year in sessions of four hours live plus another four of preparation, he has become one of the most popular and wealthiest faces of the internet in China. So much so that one record fine for tax evasion, just like the movie star Fan Bingbing did in 2018. Killing the hen to scare the monkeys, the regime has already warned other celebrities to update their accounts with the Treasury.