- Xiaoqin got viral online due to his resemblance to Jack Ma.
- A businessman took Little Ma to a big city to make money out of him.
- As Jack Ma's reputation drops in China, people are getting tired of Xiaoqin.
The kid that looks like Jack Ma is finally back home. On February 19, Fan Xiaoqin’s father, Fan Jiafa, told journalists that his youngest son, after four years of fame, would come back to continue the 4th grade at a local primary school. The man that hired Xiaoqin, Liu Changjiang, terminated the contract earlier this year.
The Fans are one of the poorest families in the village. The father lost one leg due to a snake bite decades ago, and the mother is intellectually disabled and lost an eye at a young age. The kids, Xiaoyong and Xiaoqin, are notoriously naughty in the neighborhood and were rejected by the local kindergarten.
In November 2016, a photo of the then 8-year-old Xiaoqin went viral online. He looked very similar to Jack Ma, founder of the Chinese tech giants Alibaba and Ant Group. People called him “Little Ma” on the internet. Invitations to shoot ads and movies flooded in. His small house with only one bulb even became a must-see for many internet users.
One year later, Changjiang, seeing the opportunity to make a fortune out of all this attention, took Xiaoqin to the capital city of Hebei, Shijiazhuang, and promised to let Xiaoqin enjoy the best education there. “He verbally assured us that he would take care of my son. He would even let him work in his company in the future.” Also, Jiafa received around $1,500 every year from Changjiang, with which he refurnished his house.
At Shijiazhuang, Xiaoqin became “Little Boss Ma.” He attended TV shows and fashion exhibitions. He got a personal driver and a nanny. On his birthdays, a long table full of adults congratulated him with the caption “Birthday Party of the Prince of Alibaba.” This types of videos spread all over the internet– even the internet users knew him better than his own father. As far as Jiafa knew, his son was well taken care of.
However, as Jack Ma’s reputation drops in China, people have started to find Little Ma less interesting. His video channel has been cleared. Commercial collaborations are disappearing. Now he has to go back to his old life. “His ‘boss’ has stopped sending us money. But I’m just glad my son is back.”
On Zhihu, under the thread “who ruined Little Ma,” people’s opinions on the whole story are quite varied. Some think that it’s a social tragedy: an innocent little kid being exploited by businessmen and the capital market. “How would he live on when all of a sudden, all the attention and material stuff are gone?” Others, however, argue that with Xiaoqin’s background (Xiaoqin seems to have inherited his mother’s intellectual disability, and also suffers from dwarfism), even this type of ugly fame is already doing him and his family a huge financial favor.