A Chinese comedy troupe has been fined 14.7 million yuan ($2.1 million) for a joke about the military that used President Xi Jinping’s slogan, the BBC reported. The joke, in which the behavior of the comedian’s dogs was compared to the behavior of the military, caused the irritation of the authorities. They said Shanghai Xiaoguo Culture Media Co and comedian Li Haoshi had “humiliated the people’s army”. The company accepted the sanction and terminated Li’s contract. The offending remark was made during a stand-up performance in Beijing when Li referred to two of his adopted dogs chasing a squirrel. “The other dogs you see make you think they’re adorable. These two dogs just reminded me of… ‘Fight to win, set the example,'” said Lee, whose stage name is House. The game of words is part of a slogan that President Xi introduced in 2013 as a target for the Chinese military. In an audio recording of the performance shared on China’s Weibo platform, audience members can be heard laughing at the joke. But it was not so well received in internet after a member of the public complained about her. Beijing authorities said Tuesday they had opened an investigation. They then confiscated 1.32 million yuan of what was believed to be illegal income and fined the company in the amount of another 13.35 million yuan, according to Xinhua. Shanghai Xiaoguo’s operations in the Chinese capital have also been suspended indefinitely. “We will never allow any company or person to use the Chinese capital as a stage to wantonly defame the glorious image of the PLA [People’s Liberation Army],” said the Beijing branch of the Culture and Tourism Bureau of China’s Ministry of Culture.
The audio went viral, with some nationalists saying they were deeply offended and state media also joining the discussion. Li apologized to his more than 136,000 followers on Weibo. “I feel deeply ashamed and sorry. I will take responsibility, stop all activities, think deeply, learn”. His Weibo account has since been suspended. The incident sheds light on the difficult climate for Chinese comedians. In late 2020, stand-up comedian Yan Li was accused of “sexism” and “man-hating” after making a joke about men. A group claiming to protect men’s rights also called for her to be reported to China’s media regulator.
Illustrative Photo by Robert Stokoe: https://www.pexels.com/photo/the-terracotta-army-of-emperor-qin-shi-huang-s-mausoleum-5342720/