Watch: John Oliver's Last Week Tonight segment on Xi Jinping that stirred China to ban him, HBO website
Comedian John Oliver and now the website of TV giant HBO have fallen victim to China's censorship machine. China’s Twitter-like microblogging service Weibo blocked and deleted posts referring to British comedian John Oliver after he slammed the country’s human rights record and mocked President Xi Jinping on his show, Last Week Tonight.
In a 20-minute segment aired on HBO last Sunday, Oliver criticised China’s moves to end presidential term limits and enshrine “Xi Jinping Thought” in its constitution, saying Xi’s consolidation of power was driven by a “leadership cult”. Oliver also mocked China’s “Belt and Road” initiative, its ongoing crackdown on corruption, and moves to censor online images of the cartoon bear Winnie the Pooh, said to resemble Xi.
"China: the country responsible for huge technological advances but it still can't seem to get pandas to f***," Oliver opened the episode of Last Week Tonight that is causing the problems. Those technological advances include draconian surveillance and censorship measures which appear to have made HBO and Oliver their latest victims.
Oliver's segment dug into Xi's distaste at comparisons to the self-described "bear of very little brain" and introduced viewers to repressive changes underway in the world's most populous country. Chinese netizens have often compared Xi to AA Milne's most famous creation, something that censors have been quick to purge inside the Great Firewall.
The segment also recounted recent headlines: from Xi becoming "emperor for life" to a corruption purge that targeted his political rivals, to a crackdown on freedom of expression, human rights, and religion, to an ongoing suppression and imprisonment campaign against China's Uighur ethnic minority.
"Xi is actively removing the post-Mao guardrails that were put in place," Oliver said of changes to China's constitution which allow him to remain in power indefinitely.
"China is becoming more authoritarian just as it has major plans for expansion onto the world stage," Oliver said as the segment neared an end. "The era of do as we say may be dawning."
HBO joins a long list of Western media outlets that have had their websites blocked in China including The New York Times, Facebook, and Twitter.
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Jun 27, 2018 13:53:33 IST