The American ‘fake smile boy’ China genuinely loves

To the casual observer, the attendance by an eight-year-old American boy at a yearly conference for one of China’s biggest internet companies last week might have been an unlikely sight.

That child was viral internet star Gavin Thomas, known in China as “fake smile boy”. Images of him smirking at the camera – first as a toddler, then as a youngster – looking confused or showing his trademark uncomfortable smile have floated around the internet for years, becoming a staple on social media like Twitter and Reddit.

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