John Oliver's 'Last Week Tonight' segment on Xi Jinping didn't go down too well with Chinese authorities.
Any new mentions of Oliver or the name of his show, ‘Last Week Tonight’, have been blocked on China’s version of Twitter following the broadcast of the 20-minute sketch on Sunday (June 17th).
Oliver’s segment laid into Xi Jinping, who has been the country’s leader since 2012, and covered human rights abuses, what he called “dystopian levels of surveillance and persecution” of Uighurs, a Muslim minority in China’s western Xinjiang province, and the detention of Liu Xia, the wife of Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo who died last year while imprisoned.
He also attacked online censorship in China, including the suppression of memes comparing Xi’s figure with that of children’s character Winnie the Pooh.
John Oliver has been blocked by Weibo, China's premier social networking site
“Clamping down on Winnie the Pooh comparisons doesn’t exactly project strength. It suggests a weird insecurity,” he had said in the clip, claiming elsewhere that “Xi's crackdown on human rights is apparently the harshest crackdown since Tiananmen square. [He] has clamped down noticeably on any form of dissident whatsoever.”
As a result, the BBC reports that attempts to post status updates on Weibo that mention John Oliver, the sketch or his show are blocked, on the ground that it violates “relevant laws and regulations”.
Conducting a search for his name isn’t much better – you get returns on his name, but none from after June 12th.
China has employed millions of people to monitor social media sites, including other platforms like Douban or Zhihu, and censor internet activity the state deems to be politically incorrect.
41 year old Oliver has fronted HBO series ‘Last Week Tonight’ since 2014, and has won awards for his work. The show is not broadcast in China and YouTube is blocked in the country, but clips from the show are hosted on Chinese video hosting platforms.
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