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China. Comedian forced to apologize for joke meant to offend military

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Comedian Li Haoshi apologized for a joke that authorities deemed inappropriate and insulting to the army, Chinese media reported. The performer’s performances were canceled “indefinitely” and an investigation was launched against the company organizing them.

The joke that the authorities did not like was made by Haoshi on May 13 during a performance in Beijing. As CNN explains, referring to recordings available on the Weibo platform, i.e. the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, the comedian spoke from the stage about two dogs he had adopted. He recalled how once the animals gave chase to a squirrel. He said their behavior reminded him of a popular slogan in China: “Excellent working style makes you capable of winning battles.”

The problem is that Haoshi’s words are a paraphrase of the main slogan of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. CNN explains that this slogan was first spoken ten years ago by Xi Jinping, the president of the People’s Republic of China. The politician used it when listing the qualities he expected from the Chinese army. Authorities have since used the words many times, in different contexts and on different occasions.

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Joke deemed “inappropriate”

Jimu News, which is linked to the Chinese government, said that while the joke amused a large part of the audience, the user who shared the video of the performance on Weibo deemed it “inappropriate”. A discussion ensued in the comments below the post, which attracted the attention of the authorities.

Shanghai Xiaoguo Culture Media, which represents Haoshi and organizes his performances, also described the joke as “inappropriate”. The company reacted after the relevant government body launched an investigation into the matter, Beijing Evening News, another news website affiliated with Beijing authorities, reported.

In a statement quoted by CNN – published on Monday, May 15, two days after the performance – Shanghai Xiaoguo Culture Media apologized for the incident and said that the comedian “has been suspended indefinitely.” The announcement added that the company would “intensify the training of actors to maintain order.”

Haoshi himself also posted an apology on Monday. In a post he posted on social media, he expressed “deep regret.” He admitted that during the performance he used “an extremely inappropriate analogy that evoked bad associations and negative feelings among the audience”. “I will take full responsibility and cancel all my performances to think deeply about this,” assured the performer, who performs on stage under the stage name Hause.

China. Jail for criticizing the army

In China, you have to be extremely careful about what you say publicly about the military. CNN recalls that in May 2022, former investigative journalist Luo Changping was sentenced to seven months in prison for calling Chinese soldiers featured in one of the videos “stupid”. The man also had to publicly apologize for his words.

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Main photo source: Wang Biao/VCG via Getty Images

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