Literature-loving hobo Shen Wei, 52, a ragged and unkempt homeless man who lives near Yanggao South Road Subway Station in East China's Shanghai Municipality, has become an internet sensation after being filmed quoting from famous works, but he told his fans he just wants a quiet life, Chinanews reported on Friday.
Clips show him surrounded by people lining up to record him quoting from Chinese classics, such as the Commentary of Zuo, the Strategies of the Warring States. He also quotes from the Analects of Confucius. People have dubbed him the "master of guoxue," which means Chinese literature.
Shen graduated from a university in Shanghai and joined Xuhui District Audit Bureau in 1986, but has been on sick leave since 1993. He still receives a sickness benefit of around 2,000 yuan ($300) a month, the Guancha Syndicate reported on Thursday.
Reading is Shen's greatest pleasure, and he spends most of his money on books, which are piled high around the corner he calls home, after he was evicted from his apartment in 2002. Shen also likes to recycle trash and look after stray cats. He started picking and sorting garbage when he was young, as a way to find the money to buy books, and he continued the habit even when he started work, the South China Morning Post reported.
Videos of Shen quoting from literary works or talking about his philosophy have been viewed millions of times on China's social media platforms. But many have criticized the uploaders for being influencers who wanted to cash in on Shen's new-found fame.
Web celebrities from livestreaming platforms such as TikTok and Kwai vied with each other to film Shen. Some have started trying to broadcast him day and night, and Shen has not taken kindly to the obsessive interest.
The internet influencers have been slammed for only caring about the number of views, rather than the subject of their films and posts. Shen's many admirers have started calling for him to be left alone.
The best respect and love for the "master of guoxue" is to give him the peace he desires, and social media platforms should prevent and regulate unscrupulous web celebrities and network promoters who consider their own interests ahead of their subjects to get a bit more online fame, according to an editorial by xhby.net on Thursday.
Shen has asked for people to leave him alone in peace, and said that he would like nothing more than if people started reading more books and caring more about the environment.
"For so many years, the principle I have been holding onto is that people should not waste things unscrupulously," he said in a video interview.