Luxury KOLs vanish from Chinese socials amid ‘money worship’ crackdown

    Could this signal the beginning of China’s “common prosperity” drive on social media? And how might luxury businesses be affected?
    Bo Gongzi and Wang Hongquanxing were among the influencers affected by China’s latest social media crackdown. Image: Xiaohongshu
      Published   in Macro

    What happened

    In a surprising turn, three of China’s top influencers, renowned for posting about their extravagant luxury lifestyles, have vanished from major Chinese social platforms amid a crackdown on “money worship.”

    Influencers Wang Hongquanxing, Baoyujiajie, and Bo Gongzi, who amassed millions of followers by flaunting luxury items and lifestyles and then turned their fame into lucrative e-commerce ventures, have seen their accounts suddenly shut down for violating community guidelines.

    Wang boasted 4.3 million followers on Douyin before his cancellation and was famous for only leaving the house if his outfit was worth over 10,000,000 RMB ($1.4 million). Bo was known for showing off his luxury cars and Hermès bags, while Baoyujiajie, with 2.3 million followers, was often referred to as “the richest woman on the internet.”

    Baoyujiajie, or Sister Abalone, is often seen carrying an Hermès bag. Image: Xiaohongshu
    Baoyujiajie, or Sister Abalone, is often seen carrying an Hermès bag. Image: Xiaohongshu

    The Jing Take

    But these three KOLs aren’t the only ones being targeted by authorities under the guise of discouraging “money worship” in Chinese society. Last week, local media noticed that Chinese social media platforms like Weibo, Tencent, Douyin, and Xiaohongshu have begun removing user posts that flaunt personal wealth and opulence.

    The move is seen as part of China’s latest bid to reduce displays of conspicuous consumption as the nation seeks to promote the ideology of “common prosperity” under the administration of President Xi Jinping. According to media reports, the goal is to foster a “civilized, healthy, and harmonious” digital space and “purify the internet cultural environment” by eliminating content that features luxury cars, costly homes, and other symbols of affluence.

    At the time of writing, Weibo has deleted over 1,100 such posts, and Douyin and Xiaohongshu have reported substantial content deletions and account suspensions. This initiative aligns with China’s broader efforts to curb content that promotes hedonistic and materialistic values in society. The bans have sparked widespread speculation and mixed reactions, highlighting ongoing concerns about a toxic internet environment and the authenticity of influencers’ portrayed wealth.

    For luxury brands, this will no doubt set off alarm bells, since digital marketing via influential KOLs and celebrities is critical to building impactful marketing strategies in China. Do they run the risk of having their ambassadors or engaged influencers canceled?

    Ultimately, this internet cleanup is part of a larger effort by Chinese authorities to curate and control social cultures to tackle China’s widening income disparity and wealth inequality. In a move aligned with the “common prosperity” policy, announced pay cuts for top executives to fund benefits for frontline workers.

    In 2023, senior management salaries were reduced by 10–20%, with savings redirected to enhance benefits for delivery drivers and other employees. This initiative, announced by company founder Richard Liu, aims to promote a more equitable distribution of wealth within the company.

    The public response to’s initiative was overwhelmingly positive, reflecting support for efforts to create a healthier economic environment in China. However, with the latest curbs on influencers and social media censorship, questions arise regarding how far authorities will go to control even non-political individual online expression.

    The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.

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