- On his Sunday HBO show, “Last Week Tonight,” John Oliver criticised Chinese President Xi Jinping.
- Oliver blasted Xi’s consolidation of power and China’s human-rights abuses.
- The Chinese social network Weibo has blocked all mentions of Oliver and scrubbed all recent posts about him and his show.
- Chinese internet companies regularly censor content they believe could jeopardize the country’s political stability.
China’s largest social network, Weibo, has blocked all mentions of John Oliver after the TV host criticised President Xi Jinping.
On Sunday’s episode of Oliver’s HBO show, “Last Week Tonight,” Oliver blasted Xi’s consolidation of power and attempts to establish what he described as a cult of personality by way of abolishing presidential term limits, amassing lists of “untrustworthy” people, and censoring content on the internet at an unprecedented pace.
As a result, Weibo has censored all posts mentioning Oliver’s name and show in an attempt to stop people from reading about Oliver’s attacks on Xi.
The ban was first noticed on Wednesday by Inkstone, a China-focused news outlet affiliated with the South China Morning Post, as reporters found they were unable to post news about Oliver on Weibo.
— Alan Wong (@alanwongw) June 20, 2018
The microblogging platform has also scrubbed all posts containing the phrases “John Oliver” and “Last Week Tonight” since June 12, Business Insider has found.
While there is no indication that Weibo’s censorship came at the behest of the Chinese government, the Communist Party is known to have a firm grip on internet content. In March, China temporarily banned a Quora-like platform from app stores after it was found not to have censored enough content.
While “Last Week Tonight” is not officially broadcast in China and YouTube is blocked in mainland China, Oliver’s shows are regularly discussed and shared unofficially on video platforms, Inkstone said.
Chinese internet companies regularly censor content they believe could jeopardize the country’s political stability.
Earlier this year, Weibo blocked the letter N from the internet after it was used to attack Xi. Douyin, the country’s video-sharing app, also banned “Peppa Pig” videos because the government believed the cartoon was being used to spread “negative influence” in the country.
The country has also repeatedly censored content containing images of Winnie the Pooh, which Chinese critics use to mock Xi and imply physical similarities between the president and the fictional bear.
US viewers can watch Oliver’s 20-minute segment on China here.
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