By China Youth Daily — Global Times
Fan Xiaoqin, who uncannily resembles Chinese billionaire Jack Ma Yun, returned to his home village after four years of an “extravagant life” sponsored by a company that sought to profit from his sudden fame, drawing pity from many netizens that short-lived web fame could not change the 12-year-old’s impoverished life.
A native of a village in East China’s Jiangxi Province, Fan, then 8, entered the spotlight in 2016 for looking very much like Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma.
The boy then received invitations to shoot commercials, promote products and act in films, while his home, which only has one light bulb, became a “was-here” place.
Fan was brought to Shijiazhuang, North China’s Hebei by a “boss” named Liu Changjiang in 2017. Liu promised to send Fan to school and give the family some 10,000 yuan ($1,542) a year. Liu also installed furniture and a toilet for Fan’s village home.
In Shijiazhuang, the boy, dressing up as a little “boss,” appeared in TV programs and online livestreaming. He lived in a well decorated house and was taken care of by a young nanny, according to video clips sharing Fan’s life that are still available online. Fan were also driven to school.
However, Fan appeared struggling in school. He had been found wondering around on campus during class time by the school guard and has regularly missed classes since December 2019.
And his “extravagant” lifestyle in Shijiazhuang came to an end earlier this year.
The boy returned home in January with his schoolbag and some clothes, which are all he has owned in the past few years, according to media reports. The woman who took care of Fan brought the boy back to his home village.
Fan’s father, who had his right leg amputated many years ago due to an accident, told media that he planned to send the boy to study grade four in primary school, but the boy has not even learnt to add and subtract.
Fan also appeared to remain at the same height over the past four years and the woman who took care of Fan told the family that the boy has dwarfism.
The latest situation of Fan and his family made rounds on social media with many expressing pity for the boy who was “abandoned after his commercial value was exploited.”
“Fan’s family failed to identify the world they were sending the boy to… It was not a bright future but only making quick money with his meteor-like fame. He got nothing in the end,” a net user said on Sina Weibo.
Some criticized “Boss Liu” for using Fan as a tool and not taking good care of him. “Whatever the boy’s health is, swindling a boy away from his family is immoral, if not illegal!” said another Weibo user.
Fan’s father told China Youth Daily that “Boss Liu” had promised that he would bring the boy to Shijiazhuang and assist him to get into college. If Fan failed the exam, he can work at Liu’s company.
Some speculated that Fan might have mental retardation and the family’s situation more or less improved with Boss Liu’s sponsorship. Fan’s father did not receive much education and can barely support the family.
“Is living in the village constantly a happier alternative for Fan? Can the boy endure a poor life when he had seen the world outside?” a netizen asked.