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Former police star opts for a quieter beat

By Wang Qian | China Daily | Updated: 2022-05-09 07:45
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Chen Guoping, who resigned from the police force in April, appears on the variety show Bye 2021 Comedy Night in December. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Controversy led to career change and a chance to reflect on the price of fame.

After announcing his resignation from the police force on April 8 on social media, Chen Guoping has been back in his hometown, Qinglong, in Hebei province, trying to maintain a distance from the internet, where he has hit the heights of fame, and, just months later, the depths of defamation.

"I didn't regret my resignation, because it is difficult to live under the microscope," Chen says, adding that, for now, he wants to take a rest. In the long run, he plans to be a short-video creator, but did not divulge further details.

"Whatever I say and do may result in a negative influence, even trouble, for the police. Although it is a tough decision, taking off the uniform, I am just an ordinary man."

The 45-year-old used to be a police officer on the anti-fraud task force in Qinhuangdao, Hebei. He became famous for his sense of humor during livestreams on short-video platform Douyin last year, while trying to show netizens how to avoid online fraud. He describes himself as "an anti-fraud livestreamer".

He was usually dressed in uniform, and would often show up unexpectedly during popular livestreams to ask his catchphrase question-"Have you downloaded the National Anti-Fraud Center app?", which has since become a popular meme. Hosts would never expect to encounter a real police officer during livestreaming and sometimes the results were hilarious.

But skyrocketing to fame in September and attracting a large fan base came at a cost.

There were countless negative comments and questions about whether civil servants should receive virtual gifts on social media. On Douyin, the official account of the Haigang Anti-Fraud Center, previously mainly run by Chen, currently has about 5.5 million followers and his personal account has 652,000.

"From the first day livestreaming, I was prepared for criticism, but when things got out of control, I really felt the pressure, which was too heavy to bear," Chen says.

The breaking point came on March 27. During a livestreaming session with other influencers on Douyin, Chen got 333 jianianhua (carnival), the most expensive virtual gift on the platform, from a user named Jiandan. One such gift costs 3,000 yuan ($458.7), according to Douyin, and 333 equal nearly 1 million yuan.

The present is just a symbol, but the money is real. Although Chen said during the livestream that he would donate the money and did so later, actually displaying the donation certificate, many people questioned Chen about it and his police identity. Some reported the situation to the local public security bureau.

"The more I explained, the more questions came up. It felt like being trapped in a loop which would never end," Chen says with a sigh. For him, resignation seemed to be the answer.

On microblogging platform Sina Weibo, his resignation has been viewed about 140 million times. Some users say they respect his decision, while others say they feel it is a pity.

One Weibo user named Moli who supports Chen's decision comments: "Proud of you. As an ordinary man, you can keep on helping those people in need." Another named Koukou says that Chen will regret his resignation, because it was his identity as a police officer that made him a celebrity.

Some question the reason behind his resignation. One Weibo user named Yuwowuguan says that it is all about money, noting that a livestreamer earns much more than a policeman.

"No matter what people think, I will keep on doing what I think is right and enjoy the moment," Chen responds.

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