The Great Firewall can be breached. The barrier that blocks Chinese users from accessing international sites, from Facebook to LinkedIn, is routinely hopped by users in the country with VPNs. But even those without a technical bent can get a glimpse of what’s trending beyond the firewall, thanks to Weibo’s translator-influencers.
These new influencers are dubbed “translator-creators” (译制博主). They take short videos from banned foreign social media platforms, like YouTube or TikTok, and translate, subtitle, and edit them for local consumption. Much of the content is comedic and apolitical, like cute animals, cooking videos, or thirst traps. But others go beyond lighthearted jokes to post about liberal causes and more transgressive positions that are rare on the Chinese internet: feminist content, LGBTQIA advocacy, and international news commentary about China.
These Weibo influencers do not serve simply as messengers copying and pasting content — they are also curators, interpreters, and community builders. They provide Chinese internet users both a window into the outside world, and a space for vibrant discussion about it. Here are some of the most notable influencers.
Followers: 1.9 million
Style: Liberal-leaning TikToks with a focus on gender and body positivity
One of the most vocal translator-creators, this account focuses on liberal issues. It posts videos of International Women’s Day marches and Pride Month events from around the world, often also starting conversations on mental health and body-shaming.
The account also posts videos that depict Western perceptions of China. Recently, they uploaded a translated TikTok where different ethnic groups in China wore traditional clothing, alongside Chinese translations of the original English comments praising China’s ethnic diversity. But the post drew both nationalist backlash and government criticism. Some viewers dug up the original video, criticizing the “groundless accusations” by foreigners over Xinjiang; others called out the government for lagging behind Japan and South Korea in promoting Chinese culture.
(translated as @SubtitleGirl)
Followers: 2.4 million
Style: Feminist-leaning content
@SubtitleGirl’s videos range from stand-up skits by comedians like Hannah Gadsby and Iliza Shlesinger to other gender-focused content, discussed by its community of largely female followers. In one post, a trans man recounted the privileges he had gained after gender-affirming surgery. Women jumped in to support his views, and shared their thoughts on invisible male privilege in the workplace.
Another recent post featured a subtitled clip of a parliamentary debate in the U.K. between Angela Rayner, the deputy leader of the Labour Party, and former Secretary of State for Justice Dominic Raab. In the video, Rayner accuses Raab of failing rape victims — the country’s conviction rate for rape had fallen significantly under his watch as justice secretary. “[You can] actually scold and demand an apology [from a politician] if they underperform,” one user commented. “What a thrill to watch.”
(translated as @HasegawaGoodWorks)
Followers: 2.5 million
Style: Video clips of street interviews and reality shows from Taiwan
Comedic snippets, reality shows, talk-show interviews, and even videos of regular people on the street feature on this account — all of which shed light on cultural differences between Taiwan and China.
One clip features a series of on-the-street interviews with Taiwanese people. They share their opinions on a new dating trend dubbed “test drives,” where two people have sex before they begin dating to confirm that they are sexually compatible. Many openly recounted their own “test drive” stories. Their ease discussing sex — a taboo topic — in public shocked Weibo users, who lamented that mainlanders could not be as “daring” and outspoken as those across the Strait. “Every time I watch people getting interviewed in Taiwan, I feel like they are not from the same world as us,” one user commented.
(translated as @YouTubeSelects)
Followers: 21.3 million
Style: Food, pets, travel, and everything in between
This account shares everything from fruit cake recipes to stop-motion videos of BMX stunts to footage of two Pallas’s cats playing in Siberia. Recently, it posted a translated compilation of “Ivy Decision Day reactions” — high-school seniors receiving offers from Ivy League universities. Weibo has added the hashtag “positive energy” to the video, and the comments section brims with warm, congratulatory messages.
Although categorized as a translator-creator, @YouTubeSelects is the least controversial of all the accounts. In contrast to creators like @internet-garcon-pdf, it keeps content strictly apolitical and lighthearted.
(translated as @PeninsulaHooker)
Followers: 1.1 million
Style: Videos of gay or queer men from Chinese social media
Unlike other translator-creator accounts, which source their content from outside of the Great Firewall, most of @PeninsulaHooker’s videos are from Chinese platforms such as Douyin and Kuaishou. But it’s still labeled a “translator-creator” account, perhaps because it discusses queer issues — a topic that many in China consider to be “from the West.”
Most of the clips feature gay or queer men, whether dancing or doing their makeup in public. The account also accepts submissions through direct messages from followers. Many submissions come from men who have sex with men, including questions or requests for advice on sexual health.