China fines social media influencer RM70.92mil for tax evasion

A file photo of livestreaming sessions by Chinese livestreamers Li Jiaqi and Viya, whose real name is Huang Wei, (left) seen on Alibaba’s ecommerce app Taobao. Huang was fined US$210mil (RM924.31mil) in December last year and has since disappeared from public view. Li also abruptly disappeared from the Internet. — Reuters

China fined a social media influencer US$16.11mil (RM70.92mil) for tax evasion, the latest punishment meted out to one of the country’s top online personalities amid a nationwide crackdown.

Xu Guohao, who livestreams on Momo, was ordered to pay 108mil yuan (US$16.11mil or RM70.92mil) in back taxes, late fees and fines for tax evasion from 2019 to 2020, according to a statement from State Taxation Administration. It plans to further strengthen tax supervision of people in the livestreaming industry, the statement said.

China has ramped up enforcement of tax laws in the livestreaming sector for the past year to support president Xi Jinping’s common prosperity campaign. Streaming platforms are required to collect income taxes and deliver reports including the personal information of social media personalities to local authorities every six months, according to guidelines issued in March.

One of the country’s most popular livestreamers – Huang Wei, known as Viya online – was fined US$210mil (RM924.31mil) in December last year. She has since disappeared from public view. Li Jiaqi, another top salesman in the once booming industry, also abruptly disappeared from the Internet. There was speculation he offended censors by showing a cake shaped like a tank shortly before the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. – Bloomberg

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