China: Around The Nation

Chinese man charged with arson after setting fire to his own car for live-streamed broadcast

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 October, 2016, 10:47am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 October, 2016, 12:49pm

A man in northeastern China has been put under detention and charged with arson after he set fire to his car for a live online broadcast and firefighters needed to be called, Chinese media reports.

Two fire engines and 14 firefighters attended the fire in a village in Dalian, Liaoning province on Tuesday morning when a man reported his car was on fire, the Liaoshen Evening News reported.

The car burned almost to its frame when the firefighters arrived, and it took them only a few minutes to douse the fire, the report said.

Suspicions were aroused when investigators enquired about the cause of the fire, as the car owner was vague about the reason and contradicted himself.

Investigators discovered a webcam, microphone and laptop computer at the scene, which the car owner was apparently using to live stream the fire.

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The owner later confessed to the police that he was planned to get a new car and decided to broadcast how to burn a car, which he believed would attract the interest of viewers and he could earn quick money by cashing out virtual presents given by Internet users.

The man did not anticipate how large the fire would become and had no other option but to call firefighters when the fire got out of control, he was reported to have told police.

Investigators checked the live-streamed video later and found there were 1,000 internet users watching at the beginning, but the number quickly grew to more than 5,000 when the car caught fire.

The car owner is being charged with arson, the report said.

Despite strict government content restriction, live streaming online has flourished in China as the “hosts” – from celebrities to migrant workers – use smartphones to live stream a wide range of subject matter.

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User-generated video streams such as the one above have helped drive Ingkee, a one-year-old live-streaming mobile app, to the No 1 spot on Apple’s China app store multiple times in the past few months.