The Chinese regime imposed a million-dollar fine on a company and a comedian for a joke about the Army

Li Haoshi (photo: Weibo)

The Chinese authorities fined this Wednesday with millions of yuan at a comic troupe and threatened to take further legal action after one of their members made an indirect joke about the People’s Liberation Army during a number of monologues.

li haoshiacting under the name of homereferred to a PLA slogan during a performance in Beijing on Saturday, according to audio posted on the Weibo social network.

Li was talking about his pet dogs chasing a squirrel when he referred to the slogan “Good work style, capable of winning battles.”

The Beijing Municipal Bureau of Culture and Tourism said Wednesday that it had investigated Li’s agency following the complaint from a member of the public and determined that the prank had broken the law and “caused a bad social impact.”

Xiaoguo Culture Media was fined 14.7 million yuan ($2.13 million) and all future performances, both in Beijing and Shanghai, were suspended indefinitely.

The space for dissent in China has shrunk dramatically in the past decade under the leadership of Xi Jinping.

The authorities have tightened internet censorship and cracked down on independent media and artistic expression.

Xi has promoted hard-line, muscular nationalism and made building up the capabilities of the armed forces a political and economic priority, extolling its strength in national propaganda campaigns.

In China, regulations state that Defamation of “heroes and martyrs” is prohibited, and a law was passed in 2018 punishing the “distortion or contempt” of their achievements.

(Reuters) (Jason Lee/)

In this context, the sanction imposed on the company and the actor is seen as a clear message from the authorities to preserve the integrity and image of the armed forces.

inappropriate metaphor

Li and Xiaoguo had already apologized for the performance before Wednesday’s announcement, calling the joke an “inappropriate metaphor.”

“After that day’s performance, we seriously criticized House, asked him to reflect on himself, and indefinitely suspended his acting work,” said a statement from Xiaoguo released Monday.

However, the Municipal Office of Culture and Tourism declared that the prank had infringed a rule according to which performances must not “hurt national feelings” or “damage national honor and interests”.

The show should have been interrupted when the rule was broken, further aggravating the punishmentthe office said. “The People’s Army is the firm guardian of the national security and peace of the peoplethey declared.

We will never allow any company or individual to gratuitously denigrate the glorious image of the People’s Army on the stage of the capital.(and) hurt the deep feelings of the people towards their army.”

A related hashtag was the most searched on Weibo on Wednesday, with more than 700 million views.

Many of the comments supported the punishment, although Weibo is heavily censored and problematic content is often quickly removed.

“We can’t have comedians and stars, but we can have the people’s own army!” read one comment. Another said: “The negative effect that Xiaoguo has on society as a cultural institution, and the negative impact it has on young people, is far greater than the penalty it receives.”

Others thought attacking the agency was unfair. “It is fair to punish those who made mistakes, there is no need to screw over the whole industry, people in this industry are also ordinary workers, they need to live,” said one.

In 2021, former journalist Luo Changping was arrested for “violating the reputation and honor of national martyrs” after he criticized soldiers who died in a Korean War battle, honored in a film that was showing at the time at the chinese cinemas.

(With information from AFP)

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