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Winston Sterzel

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Winston Sterzel
Picture of Winston Sterzel, also known as SerpentZA in Shenzhen (cropped).jpg
Sterzel in 2017
Personal information
Born (1980-08-17) August 17, 1980 (age 41)
Cape Town, South Africa
NationalitySouth African
YouTube information
Subscribers976 thousand[1]
Total views162 million[1]
Associated acts
  • Matthew Tye
  • ADVChina
YouTube Silver Play Button 2.svg 100,000 subscribers 2016

Updated: December 19, 2021 (2021-12-19)

Winston Frederick Sterzel, also known by his YouTube pseudonym SerpentZA, is a South African vlogger and video producer. He lived in Shenzhen in the Guangdong province of China for 14 years[2] and later moved to the United States in early 2019.[3] His videos cover a variety of topics relating to life in China from a Westerner's perspective.

Early life

Sterzel is of German-British heritage. He was born and grew up in South Africa. He moved to China in his mid-twenties[4][5] to work as an English teacher after first visiting on business in 2005.[6]

Career in China

In 2015, he was one of twelve South Africans in China profiled by China Radio International.[7] He started uploading videos in China in 2007, and became a full-time vlogger in 2016.[8] His videos primarily focus on life in China as viewed from a Westerner's perspective.[4][5][9][10][11] In some of his videos, he interviews people on topics which receive a great deal of negative attention from internet trolls.[8]

Sterzel has also made videos about motorcycle trips through China. With fellow YouTuber Matthew Tye (who goes by Laowhy86)[12] and other friends, he has taken extended journeys and produced documentary series titled Conquering Southern China[13][14][15] and Conquering Northern China.[15][12] He and Tye operate the YouTube channel ADVChina, a motorcycle travel vlog.[16] Sterzel was also co-founder of a small, China-based custom motorcycle business, Churchill Custom Motorcycles, that is no longer in business.[11] In late 2018, he said he desired to create "positive content" about China, but that a negative interaction with the Chinese police spurred him to move out of China.[17]

Career after leaving China

In 2019, Sterzel moved to Los Angeles because he felt that he would lose his life or be incarcerated in China following threats by ultranationalist Internet users and the government, who accused Sterzel's wife of being a spy and a threat to national security.[18]

After leaving China and moving to the United States, Sterzel began to criticize the Communist Party of China, a departure from his earlier videos, where he was quiet and reserved about social issues relating to Communist Party rule. One newer video, titled "How China is slowly KILLING us all," is about the aggressive and illegal fishing practices of the Chinese government that are negatively impacting global fish populations, and it has received close to 1,000,000 views.[12] The South China Morning Post in 2020 called Sterzel and Tye "unapologetic critics of China's authorities".[12]

See also

  • Afu Thomas (Thomas Derksen) - German social media figure in China
  • Raz Gal-Or - Israeli social media figure in China
  • David Gulasi - Australian internet celebrity active in China
  • Amy Lyons - Australian internet celebrity active in China


  1. ^ a b "About SerpentZA". YouTube.
  2. ^ Melody Yao (September 14, 2019). "American Youtubers In China: Q&A With Winston Sterzal And Matthew Tye". US-China Today. Winston: I have lived in China for 14 years, and that is without leaving. I’ve done a few holidays here and there, but not many … And one word to describe my time in China would be “challenge.”
  3. ^ Thomas Brown (Jan 21, 2020). "How China is Influencing YouTubers into Posting State Propaganda: A combination of cash and intimidation is keeping online creators in China compliant, quiet, or kicked out of the country". Laowhy86 lived in China for over ten years, SerpentZA for almost fifteen. They both left China in early 2019.
  4. ^ a b McGeary, Kevin (2014-06-05). "PRD People: Medical Trainer and Online Celebrity Winston Sterzel". The Nanfang. Retrieved 2017-03-19.
  5. ^ a b Ding, A (9 October 2017). "British YouTuber helps foreigners settle in China". Shenzhen Daily. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  6. ^ "My Chinese Life: Winston Sterzel--The Original China Vlogger" (with video). CRIEnglish. 21 May 2015. Retrieved 29 June 2018 – via
  7. ^ Kemp, Yunus (26 August 2015). "South Africans find home away from home in China". Xinhua. Archived from the original on 2018-06-29. Retrieved 29 June 2018.
  8. ^ a b Gidge, Sky (20 December 2016). "Take 5: YouTube Vlogger Winston Sterzel". That's Shenzhen. Retrieved 29 June 2018.
  9. ^ Yuanyuan, Wang (8 June 2012). "British-South African telling people 'how China is'". Shenzhen Daily. Retrieved 29 June 2018.
  10. ^ Rossman, Sean (4 May 2018). "Chinese are OK with Utah teen's controversial cheongsam prom dress". USA Today. Retrieved 29 June 2018.
  11. ^ a b Roberts, Stephen O. (4 January 2015). "Custom Start-Up: Three Expats and A Two-Wheeled Dream". Here! Dongguan. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  12. ^ a b c d "US-China friction turns into YouTube fame (and laughs) for online influencers". South China Morning Post. Archived from the original on 29 October 2020. Retrieved 15 November 2020.
  13. ^ Gidge, Sky (14 January 2016). "Expat's video featured". Shenzhen Daily. Archived from the original on 10 May 2017.
  14. ^ Mullin, Kyle (20 August 2016). "Watch Two Crazy Vloggers Drive 5,000km Across Southern China on Handmade Motorcycles". The Beijinger. Retrieved 29 June 2018.
  15. ^ a b Gidge, Sky (29 March 2017). "YouTube Stars Turn to Kickstarter for China Motorcycle Adventure Series". That's Guangzhou. Retrieved 29 June 2018.
  16. ^ Babones, Salvatore. "Western Vloggers Are Making It Big In China | The Zhongguo Institute". Retrieved 2020-04-09.
  17. ^ Everington, Keoni (20 November 2018). "'China's Golden Age is OVER': YouTuber SerpentZA". Taiwan News. Archived from the original on 28 July 2019. Retrieved 28 July 2019.
  18. ^ Sjöberg, Alexander (2019-07-28). "'De ville ødelægge os psykisk': Den vilde historie om to vestlige YouTube-stjerner, der forelskede sig i Kina, så deres venner blive anholdt og til sidst måtte stikke af" ['They wanted to destroy us mentally': The wild story of two western YouTube stars who fell in love with China, saw their friends get arrested and had to flee in the end]. Politiken (in Danish). Retrieved 2020-02-18.

External links