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Fishing dream with millions of fans

(Xinhua)    16:43, August 17, 2020

Wearing a white zip-up sweatshirt and a pair of camouflage galoshes, Chen Feng hauled a shark out of the water and showed it to the camera.

"It weighs about 5 kg," sitting in a sampan off the coast of Putian, east China's Fujian Province, the 28-year-old fisherman with a crewcut yelled to the camera. "It must have been trapped in the net for quite some time."

By sharing fishing videos, Chen has garnered more than 4.5 million followers on China's video-sharing app Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, and 211,000 subscribers on YouTube.

Chen posted his first video in September 2018 on Xigua, a video-sharing platform by ByteDance, TikTok's parent company. His video of capturing crabs unexpectedly attracted 200,000 views, bringing him an ad revenue of 700 yuan (about 100 U.S. dollars). Chen was motivated and has henceforth continued to create videos passionately.

Initially, video-making did not bring him constant income and his family was not supportive, either. However, Chen insisted on persevering, with a different desire -- to find his mother using the power of the internet.

"My mom left home when I was 12 and I've never seen her ever since," said the young man, whose profile photo shows him holding a crab with a broad smile.

There is still no news from Chen's mother, but he has generated a huge fan base by posting over 500 videos.

"The 4.5 million followers are like my siblings," said Chen, adding that his fans would celebrate with him when he lands a good catch and would cheer him up when he returns home empty-handed.

Though already a famous vlogger, even Chen himself has little idea why his videos became popular.

"I grew up in the mountains, so watching him catch sea creatures like crabs is really thrilling," said Zan Jianxin, Chen's cameraman. "Perhaps that's why we've attracted so many fans."

Chen is now a contracted video provider on Xigua and receives a decent income through ad revenue for his videos and selling aquatic products.

Since last year, he has also been teaching other fishermen to shoot videos to help them earn a better life. One of his friends has already accumulated 970,000 followers on Xigua.

"Some people may criticize me for hyping and making a quick buck through livestreaming, but my intention was to introduce local seafood to more fans while helping local residents make a better living," said Chen.

He always frees juvenile fishes or ovigerous crabs captured in the video. "Eating one egg-laying crab means eating tens of thousands of crabs, I hope I can help raise people's awareness of ocean conservation," he said.

At the end of one of his workdays, Chen caught five crabs, three fishes and several mantis shrimps and had a wonderful meal with his family. As of now, the video of him capturing the shark has been viewed over 770,000 times and counting.

"It's been another pretty good day," said Chen as he waved goodbye to the viewers with his iconic big smile.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Wen Ying, Liang Jun)

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