5 China-Based Youtubers You Need to Be Following

By Sky Gidge, June 12, 2017

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China is an unlikely place for a YouTuber. For one, the web site is – ahem – difficult to access, cutting video makers off from a billion potential viewers that would be able to identify with life in the Middle Kingdom, no matter the language.

Case in point: an English YouTube search for ‘Korea vlogger' sees half a million matches. ‘China vlogger’? A paltry 140,000 results.

But for the brave few who try (and sometimes succeed) at making YouTube a job, the weird and wonderful of China is the strength of their videos – whether they are posing as celebrities, comparing countries or adventuring for street food.

READ MORE: 15 Tips on How to Become a Youtube Vlogger in China

This month That’s PRD looks at China’s most notable YouTubers and asks: why do people watch? 


The Food Ranger

Real name: Trevor James
More than 600,000 subscribers 
with 75,000,000 views 
since March 12, 2013.

While the other dudes on YouTube take on topics ranging from mental illness to blind sex toy identification, Chengdu-based James is about one thing: food. The focus has paid off, with the Canadian’s more than 120 videos finding a huge audience that watches him feast on everything from ‘beautiful’ Xinjiang buns to southern-style dim sum, while showing off food-centric Mandarin.

Taking nine-hour train ride ‘just for good noodles,’ James’ foodie enthusiasm is infectious, even finding fans on popular mainland websites like iQiyi. Check out his blog here.

“My main goal here is to share with you the amazing food of the world, and show you that it’s entirely possible for you to travel cheaply, eat well, and pursue a passion and earn a living at the same time through travel.” – James.

Most popular (China-related) video (VPN on):


Real name: Winston Sterzel
More than 160,000 subscribers 
with 24 million views 
since Aug 30, 2006.

Oft spotted besuited stumping the streets of Shenzhen, South African Winston Sterzel began uploading videos to YouTube to prove to friends that ‘China isn’t as horrible as the media paints it to be.’

Eleven years, and more than 700 videos later, he is the self-made face of his chosen city, with videos that dominate a YouTube search simply for ‘China.’ 

“Another informative, in-depth video!” reads a comment on a 15-minute video about convenience stores.

Sterzel’s chosen topics might leave expats with an I-could-do-that shrug, but his explanation of day-to-day life in China has found a curious audience in the West.

“People can see China for what it really is, a real man's honest take on what it's like to live in the Middle Kingdom and learn how to navigate a culture incredibly different from what we're used to in the West” – Sterzel 

Most popular video (VPN on):


Real name: Matthew Tye (C-Milk)
More than 110,000 subscribers 
with 17 million views 
since Apr 20, 2012.

Until recently, Huizhou-based Tye may have been better known as Sterzel’s motorcycle buddy. This year his channel came into its own, with subscriber numbers passing 100,000 as Tye honed his skill grafting China-centric topics onto YouTube friendly formats — think “What NOT to do in China: Top 5 things.”

Dubbing his audience ‘lao winners,’ they come for updates on his growing daughter, his cross-culture marriage and answers to questions like ‘Are you fat in China?’

“I think people watch my videos because I answer a lot of questions people have always wondered about the more human and daily life aspects of China and Chinese people” – Tye

Most popular video (VPN on):

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Real name: Matt Galat
More than 22,000 subscribers 
with 5 million views 
since Feb 28, 2012.

“He’s a world traveler, he’s a mountain climber, he’s a really awesome guy,” Galat says before a tongue-in-cheek interview. The guest? Himself.

Galat’s channel saw irregular updates as he talked about fish tanks, recumbent trikes and his worldly travels – until he began documenting his daily prep for a Mount Everest climb. After returning to his Ningbo home, he has run a (mostly) daily vlog.

With a constant smile, a shiny bald head and an industrial grade selfie stick, Galat’s vlog gives a look at a businessman balancing his love of travel and his growing family in China.

“People watch my videos as an opportunity to view the world through the perspective of my adventures and interactions… hopefully inspiring or igniting the fuel within to step out into the world or attempt their own adventure” – Galat

Most popular video (VPN on):


Donnie Does

Real name: Zach Etkind
More than 20,000 subscribers 
with 2,500,000 views 
since Nov 19, 2012.

The story goes like this: Donnie passed out in a Legal Sea Foods in Logan Airport before waking up in Shanghai in 2012. Since then (with a foray back stateside) the Boston bro has been rejected by dating-show girls, held down jobs in amusement parks and released videos hip-hopping about a pet goose.

Donnie, of course, is a character played by Etkind, who has had a role in some of the most slickly produced English-language comedy to ever come out of the Chinese mainland.

“When I was averaging about 5,000 views a video on my YouTube page – Couldn’t really make a living doing that,” he says in his latest video, announcing his move to Barstool Sports where he is being ‘paid a salary’ to film Donnie’s newest booze-fueled hijinks.

“I was like, if I just become this character that I already created and used China as the setting, I could pretty much make a show for zero budget. Since then, I’ve been steadily gaining new followers who have either lived in China at some point or live there now” – Etkind

Most popular video (VPN on)

Read 15 tips on how to become a professional Youtuber here.

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