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China censors completely block HBO after John Oliver parody of Xi Jinping

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The comedian referred to Xi as the ‘creepy uncle who imprisons 800,000 people in his basement’, a sure-fire way to be banned in the communist country

Anna Freeman

25 Junio 2018 16:40

China’s censors have blocked HBO’s website from Chinese social media and platform Weibo has banned mentions of John Oliver following the comedian’s parody of Chinese president Xi Jinping.

Anti-censorship and monitoring group Greatfire.org says HBO’s website was completely blocked within China as of Saturday, days after reports emerged that Weibo had censored new posts mentioning Oliver or his HBO show Last Week Tonight.


During a segment on 17 June, Oliver called Xi the ‘creepy uncle who imprisons 800,000 people in his basement’, after which Weibo blocked all fresh posts related to Oliver, as well as searches for the show’s Chinese name, Shangzhou jinye xiu.

HBO Asia, a Singapore-based broadcast network that airs HBO content in China through Dingjijuchang, also appears to be blocked.

Oliver’s segment on Xi could not be found on Chinese streaming sites where other episodes of Last Week Tonight have been uploaded by individual users. YouTube, which hosts clips of the show, has been blocked in China for a while.

During the show, Oliver made fun of the Xi’s apparent sensitivity over comparisons of his figure with that of Winnie the Pooh. Images of the AA Milne character, used to mock Xi, have been censored in China.

‘If your face even remotely resembles that of a beloved cartoon character, the smart move here is to lean in,’ Oliver said, showing an image of his own face next to that of The Lion King’s Zazu.

However, it wasn’t all laughs when Oliver criticised Xi for removing term limits from the Chinese constitution, the use of political re-education camps in the Muslim province of Xinjiang, and a crackdown on the freedom of society.

Oliver commented on the continued house arrest of Liu Xia, the wife of Chinese dissident and nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo who died last year while serving an 11-year prison sentence.

‘While China has never been known as a haven for free expression, [Xi] has clamped down noticeably on any form of dissent whatsoever,’ he said.

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