Fri, Jun 22, 2018 - Page 5 News List

Sina Weibo erases John Oliver after scathing Xi piece

The Guardian

British comedian John Oliver has been scrubbed from a Chinese microblogging site after the host of Last Week Tonight ran a 20-minute segment satirizing Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平).

New posts mentioning his name or the show have been blocked on Sina Weibo.

Oliver’s scathing parody of Xi on Sunday covered human rights abuses, “dystopian levels of surveillance and persecution” of Uighurs in Xinjiang Province, the continued detention of Liu Xia (劉霞), wife of Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波) who died last year in state custody, and online censorship, including memes comparing Xi’s figure with that of Winnie the Pooh.

“Clamping down on Winnie the Pooh comparisons doesn’t exactly project strength. It suggests a weird insecurity,” Oliver said.

Attempts to publish posts mentioning Oliver’s name or the name of the show resulted in an error message that the post violated “relevant laws, regulations, or violates Weibo community rules.”

Searches for Oliver’s name were not blocked on Weibo, but the Chinese name of the show was censored. The most recent comments about Oliver or the show were on Thursday, before his segment on Xi aired, suggesting newer ones had been deleted.

Clips of the show, uploaded by users, were still online on video platforms, but his most recent segment on Xi was not on Weibo or other social media platforms.

Oliver’s name did not appear to be censored on other platforms, such as Douban or Zhihu, a popular question-and-answer forum.

In his take down of Xi’s China, Oliver also highlighted the expansion of the social credit scoring system, the elimination of term limits made earlier this year and China’s heavy economic influence around the world.

“Under Xi Jinping China is becoming more authoritarian just as it has major plans for expansion on the world stage... China has significant economic leverage and it has been using that to silence criticism even when criticism is very much warranted,” Oliver said.

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