China alarmed as binge drink livestreaming becomes the latest online trend

A controversial live stream binge drinking boom in China has attracted millions of fans but has mainstream media seriously alarmed about health impacts.

Although the trend appeared a few years ago, the videos in which bloggers drink excessive amounts of alcohol including beer, liquor, wine and spirits, have only gained momentum since the beginning of last year.

In 2019 a man died after filming himself drinking alcohol and things like cooking oil every day for three months in a bid to make money online.

Many binge drink streamers now have millions of fans.

Some may do binge live streams four to five times a week in a bid to maintain their audience and attract new followers.

One celebrity streamer from Inner Mongolia, a woman named Duoduoqimuge, finished five 620ml bottles of beer in a single sitting.

Some drink as many as ten 500ml bottles of high alcohol content liquor in a single live stream. As a result, some bloggers vomit or lose consciousness in front of the camera.

It comes after authorities cracked down on popular binge eating livestreaming which showed streamers eat excessive amounts of food in front of millions of fans. In the second half of last year, the practice was banned for being unhealthy and wasteful.

After some people questioned if streamers were really drinking high-strength alcohol, some livestreamers began setting drinks on fire as proof. This has led to audiences routinely demanding drinks be set on fire as evidence of alcohol content. “I don’t trust you if you don’t ignite the liquor,” wrote one viewer quoted in The Beijing Daily, which reported that in some cases people’s clothes had caught fire.

Others will drink smaller quantities of far stronger drinks, such as one streamer who drank a 100ml bottle of spirits with an alcohol content of more than 55%.

In an editorial on Monday, People’s Daily, the Party’s mouthpiece, said binge drinking livestreaming should be banned.

“This kind of livestreaming competes with each other’s drinking capacity for online traffic. This practice breaches society’s bottom line and is actually exchanging money with [blogger’s] life,” the article said. “The online traffic generated by it is toxic.”

Guangming Daily, the Communist Party central committee-run newspaper, said in an editorial on Wednesday that binge drinking livestreaming was a dangerous stunt for the sake of online traffic and was encouraging risky behaviour online. It also blamed online platforms for not clamping down on the trend.

“Those platforms only acted (on binge eating) after the media reported the phenomenon, triggering public pressure on them. This gave us an impression that the platforms do not take any initiative to oversee it and did respond at a slower rhythm,” the article said.

Li Yan, a cardiology doctor from Dongfang Hospital of the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, said compared with livestream eating, the binge drinking trend posed far more harm to people.

“The damage brought by binge eating is temporary, like expanding their stomach,” he told the Beijing News.

“Drinking excessive spirits would be more harmful, as alcohol itself hurts our body, especially for those patients with high blood pressure, diabetes or high blood cholesterol.”

According to Chinese Dietary Guidelines, a man should drink no more than 25 grams of alcohol a day, while a woman’s intake should not exceed 15 grams. – South China Morning Post