Chinese opera singer Liu Keqing has been blocked on the country's social media, due to his resemblance to President Xi Jinping, The New York Times reported. His Douyin and TikTok account were reportedly blocked several times, although he provided personal identification.
Cited by The New York Times, the singer claimed that his TikTok account, with around 300,000 followers, was blocked because of his profile image, in which he wore a suit and a red tie, allegedly resembled Xi's official portraits. The singer's efforts to set up new account were reported to have failed, as users kept sending complaints that he was violating the rules by using an image of someone else.
“I don’t understand,” Liu said in an interview to Nytimes.com, commenting on his social media account blocks. “Maybe the country has security concerns.”
According to the report, Liu was only able to open a new account after changing his profile picture to a man in a yellow hat - however, the comments on many of his videos on Chinese social media are said to still be blocked.
Earlier in May, Liu allegedly posted a video online in which he claimed that, despite providing identification materials, his account remained blocked because of "image violation".
"I have provided my identification materials again, and I am currently waiting for approval. This is the third time that my account has been banned because of 'image violation'", Keqing said in the video, according to Radio Free International.
Liu denied that he tried to use his resemblance with the Chinese president for personal gain, posting in social media clips demonstrating his vocal technique.
“Others say we look alike, but I don’t dare have too many ideas on this,” he said. “I’m just a normal person and a normal artist.”
Unconfirmed rumours that Beijing is over-protecting the image of its president, Xi Jinping, were sparked by a US media report that Chinese officials had banned a Winnie the Pooh movie in 2018 over allegations raised by The Hollywood Reporter that Chinese authorities were offended by popular memes comparing Xi with the well-known cartoon representation of the classic fictional stuffed bear.