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Government Official Goes Viral on Chinese TikTok for Tacky Videos

As the popularity of short video platforms surges, some tourism bureaus in China have turned to Douyin, China’s version of TikTok, to promote local tourism

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Beatrice Tamagno Headshot
12:47 PM HKT, Fri November 11, 2022 1 mins read

If you thought hanfu (traditional Chinese clothing), wigs, and swords only belonged to period dramas, you should spend more time on Chinese TikTok (Douyin).

Xie Wei, the bureau chief of the Tourism and Culture Bureau of Suizhou, a city in Hubei province, recently went viral thanks to a creative video promoting the local natural landscape and traditional culture.

Xie, who is not afraid of getting his hands dirty, starred in two short videos where he is seen dressed in a wuxia-inspired outfit. (Wuxia (武俠), literally meaning ‘martial arts heroes,’ is a wildly popular genre of books, film, and television.) In the videos, he and two beautiful women engage in swordplay, traditional chess, and drinking rice wine from old jars.

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Screengrabs of Xie wearing hanfu on Douyin

The videos garnered more than 70,000 views on Douyin and a storm of comments from netizens, with a related hashtag gaining over 140 million views on Weibo.

While some social media users initially criticized Xie for lacking the charisma and skills required to act as a traditional wuxia hero, many sympathized with him and praised his commitment.

On his Douyin, Xie addressed netizens’ criticism with humbleness, explaining the limited time and budget allocated for the videos’ production.

In an interview with the domestic media outlet The Paper, the bureau chief stated, “I might be ugly, but if everybody saw how beautiful Suizhou is, then it’s fine.” He added that he didn’t feel attacked but, in fact, appreciated netizens’ attention and support.

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Screengrabs from the promotional videos on Douyin

Impressed by Xie’s positive attitude, users on Weibo commented, “I support him; it shows that he’s putting in the hard work at his job,” and even praised his media strategy, stating that “He really gets how viral content works.”

Xie is not the only official who starred in short videos to promote local tourism. In recent months, the tourism bureau chief of Ganzi, Sichuan, a Tibetan autonomous prefecture in southwestern China, Liu Hong, also became a viral sensation thanks to his videos showcasing Ganzi’s rich culture and history.

Liu, who boasts more than 17 million fans on his Douyin account, shares videos where he stars in different roles, from a People’s Liberation Army soldier to a Tibetan opera performer and even a traditional swordsman.

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Screengrabs of Liu Hong playing different characters on Douyin

The videos are masterfully shot and edited, often featuring viral soundtracks, which shows his team’s deep understanding of Douyin’s algorithm and users’ preferences on the platform.

As the consumption of short videos continues to rise among Chinese people, Douyin-savvy tourism bureau chiefs like Xie and Liu have become part of a broader trend of utilizing the platform’s unique format and aesthetics to market products, whether they’re luxury brands or tourist destinations.

All images via Douyin

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