China Blocks HBO After John Oliver Segment Mocking Xi Jinping


Chinese authorities have blocked HBO’s website in China, just days after comedian and HBO talk show host John Oliver criticized President Xi Jinping, an anti-censorship and monitoring group said on Saturday.

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.

“China: the country responsible for huge technological advances but it still can’t seem to get pandas to fuck,” John Oliver opened Last Sunday’s controversy-stirring episode of Last Week Tonight.
Those technological advances include draconian surveillance and censorship measures which appear to have made HBO and Oliver their latest victims. Oliver’s name and that of the show he hosts were censored on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like micro-blogging platform.

“Send failure,” and “Content is illegal!” reportedly flash across the screen upon attempting to search Oliver’s name on the Chinese social networking service.

YouTube, which also airs Last Week Tonight, has long been blocked in China.

Oliver’s segment reportedly 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 A.A. Milne’s most famous creation, something that censors have been quick to purge inside the Great Firewall.

Oliver’s 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.”

China voted to scrap presidential term limits in March, paving the way for Xi to stay in power indefinitely

The Agence France-Presse contributed to this report.