Li Ziqi’s video snapshots of life on a Chinese farm are idyllic. The images of her doing everyday chores such as feeding animals, preparing a meal for her grandmother or making silk garments are picture-perfect. They are so well presented that hours can be wasted away on YouTube, revelling in the simple life portrayed by the young woman from Sichuan province. It is the image of China that many in the West imagine, a riveting example of the “soft power” Beijing has been seeking to make the nation appreciated by outsiders. Video bloggers abound in mainland China and although Li has more than 50 million followers, her numbers are not extraordinary in a country of 1.4 billion people. What makes her special is her international audience – 7.8 million people have subscribed to her YouTube channel and each new video she posts attracts millions of views. She rarely speaks, the content being her everyday activities in a rural setting with a soothing musical soundtrack. It is unremarkable, yet so well produced and carefully framed that it is bound to invite escapism. The videos are a far cry from the sometimes harsh realities of rural life in China. There is little evidence of the dirt and grit thanks to the editing skills of the production team. Li’s following has enabled her to turn her videos into a successful business venture. A reflection of reality or not, they provide joy and entertainment for people the world over. Officials surely recognise the worth of Li’s videos in promoting China to the world in a positive light. They may feel tempted to enlist her to their cause, believing her popularity in the West will make the nation and all things Chinese more appealing. But soft power, which combines culture, foreign policies and political values, is not easy, given these sometimes conflicting variables. That which is organic or unintentional can often do what governments strive for and unsuccessfully try to achieve. Li’s work is bringing pleasure to millions of viewers. In doing so, she is also increasing understanding of Chinese culture and a particular facet of life in a nation that, as it becomes more influential and powerful, needs to be better understood.