China’s Twitter-like microblogging service Weibo has 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.
Attempts to post Oliver’s English name or the name of his show prompted error messages about “information that violated related laws and regulations”. The Chinese translation of his name does not appear to have been censored. “For my whole life, I won’t be able to see John Oliver enter China’s market after this episode,” one Weibo user wrote on Thursday, using a Chinese translation of Oliver’s name.
Here’s our story from last night about China and Xi Jinping…https://t.co/UbBpfnbxcI
— John Oliver (@iamjohnoliver) June 18, 2018
On Thursday, June 12 was the most recent date on Weibo posts referring to John Oliver in English.
Last year, Weibo removed a Chinese-language fanpage of John Oliver’s show after the satirist interviewed Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, according to a previous moderator of the fanpage.
The fanpage had a following of around 3,000 users at the time, said the moderator, who declined to be identified. “John Oliver must have seen this coming, but I don’t think it really matters. China does not generate any revenue for HBO,” said a fan who used to help translate content for the show into Chinese. He, too, sought anonymity.