Feature: The real China through the lens of a British vlogger
GUIYANG, July 15 (Xinhua) -- Most people in China would struggle to locate the city of Xingyi on a map, yet for many overseas fans of Jason Lightfoot on YouTube, the small city in southwest China's Guizhou Province is a familiar name.
Lightfoot, 31, has lived in China for the past eight years. Born and raised in Britain, he met Zhou Yuanjiao, his Chinese wife, in 2009 when Zhou was studying at the University of Sheffield. In 2012, the couple decided to move to Xingyi, about an hour's drive from Zhou's hometown.
"Before I came to China, I had heard a lot of things about China from Western media, which were all negative. They would say that there's so much pollution in China, it's crowded, it's noisy and it's dirty. When I first came to China, I was shocked because what they said is not actually true," he said.
"Xingyi is very peaceful and relaxing, and everything is available here," he added. "I can go out at any time, day or night. It's completely safe here."
From 2015, Lightfoot began to make short videos and upload them to his YouTube account.
"Because I saw a lot of other accounts on YouTube talking about China. But actually there was a lot of negativity being put out. That simply wasn't true," he said.
In about 150 videos he made over the past years, he showed his everyday life in China -- eating Chinese food, experiencing Chinese culture, visiting different tourist spots in China, and also some tips on how to learn Chinese.
So far, he has over 20,000 followers on YouTube.
"When they first saw my videos, many of my subscribers were amazed, because they've been influenced by what they saw on their news channels and Western media. So I actually changed their opinion of China because I showed them what it's really like to live here," he said.
Judging from comments and messages, he could see that his fellow subscribers actually changed their opinion of China, after they saw the truth. Some of them wanted to come to China to either study or work.
His parents also changed their attitude toward China after visiting their son. "Never had they heard positive things about China. Once I invited them to Xingyi, they witnessed what I told them," he said.
"People started to doubt that I was indeed paid to say this. I was actually just trying to convince them that I am not paid by anyone to say this. I was making the videos to show them this is what China actually is," he said.
During the COVID-19 epidemic, he and his wife went shopping once a week and otherwise stayed indoors. He also made a few videos showing what the Chinese government did to handle the epidemic.
In his videos, all citizens in China were following correct quarantine procedures -- everyone needed to display their health code which tracks where one has been before entering public areas.
"My videos offer an inside look for them of what is to come, and is quite an early warning from China," he said, as the countries of his subscribers were not actually in lockdown in January and February when he uploaded the videos.
"So they could get to see it happening before it actually happened in their countries," he said, adding that his followers could therefore determine whether the right steps have been taken by their countries.
He tried to tell some of his friends in Britain to stay home as much as possible, but they didn't take his advice seriously because they were given contradictory advice. Yet his hard work ultimately paid off. Eventually, his friends started to listen to him and followed the correct procedures before the local government suggested they do so.
"I plan to continue to keep making videos about China and my everyday life. And hopefully I can build my channel, and get more subscribers, more friends. And I'll just keep showing the real China and showing people the truth," he said. Enditem