A 9-year-old boy from rural Jiangxi province has become a celebrity in China thanks to his striking resemblance to Alibaba CEO Jack Ma. Earlier this month, it was reported that the billionaire had decided to fund his doppelganger’s education; however, these reports were later rejected as false by Ma. The father of “mini Jack Ma” says that he didn’t get caught up in the rumors. He doesn’t expect anyone to pay to support his son, he only wants the boy to have a good education because that is the one thing that can change his fate.
Reporters from The Paper recently visited Fan Xiaoqin at his home in Jiangxi’s Yongfeng county, to see how the boy was dealing with his overnight fame after photos comparing him with the Alibaba founder went viral again on Chinese social media following Singles Day.
Fan’s family lives in poverty. His father, Fan Jiafa, had his right leg amputated as a young man after being bitten by a viper. With only one leg, he had trouble finding someone willing to marry him. Eventually, he was pressured into wedding a mentally disabled woman who suffers from polio and is blind in one eye. The couple now have two sons, Fan Xiaoqin and his 13-year-old brother. Unfortunately, both of the boys suffer from learning disabilities. Teachers say that other children avoid the brothers because they are quiet and dirty.
To make matters worse, Fan Xiaoqin’s grandmother recently developed Alzheimer’s. This means that all of the household chores and farm work have fallen on the shoulders of the one-legged father. The family also receives a meager government allowance, helping them to get by.
Fan Jiafa says that his son’s fame has in some ways made life even harder for the family. Each day, a large number of visitors arrive at their home and he receives numerous texts and calls from strangers. Fan says that some of these visitors and callers are only looking to exploit his son.
Sometimes there are so many visitors that Fan Xiaoqin is late getting to school. Villagers say that the roads around their house have become worn down because of the heavy traffic.
At the same time, rumors have begun to run wild in the village, accusing Fan of exploiting his son to make money. Fan has angrily refuted these allegations. He says that so far his family has only received 7,000-8,000 yuan in donations.
Still, Fan says he is grateful to all those warm-hearted people who have stopped by to bring the family daily necessities and money, saying that their generosity has changed their life.
But he also has no illusions about the fleeting nature of his son’s internet fame. “I’m glad that people have come to visit us. But I don’t have any high hopes about someone funding my son. I just want my children to be able to study well. Only knowledge can change their destiny.”
[Images via The Paper]
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