Chinese Police Arrest Woman For Supporting Comedian Who Joked About Military
Chinese police have reportedly detained a 34-year-old woman, identified as Shi, for posting online in support of a comedian who faced punishment for making a joke that was deemed insulting to the Chinese military. Shi admitted to authorities that she had shared “inappropriate” comments about Chinese soldiers, according to state media.
The controversy began when comedian Li Haoshi, also known as House, made a joke about two dogs chasing a squirrel, which he likened to one of Xi Jinping’s military slogans. The audio recording of the joke went viral, leading Beijing police to initiate an investigation under a 2021 law that criminalizes insults directed at China’s military, the People’s Liberation Army.
China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism Bureau issued a statement, asserting, “We will never allow any company or individual to use Chinese capital as a stage to wantonly slander the glorious image of the PLA.”
As a result of the joke, Li Haoshi’s employer was fined £1.68 million, and related hashtags garnered over 2 billion views, with some comments expressing support for the comedian. Li later issued an apology on Weibo, a strictly monitored and censored platform, expressing deep guilt and regret about the joke before his account was suspended.
On Tuesday, Shi posted a message on Weibo, which has since been taken down, questioning why Li Haoshi was banned and remarking, “Aren’t all soldier brothers just dog brothers?”
According to the Global Times, Shi was placed under administrative detention, which enables police to hold an individual for up to 15 days without charge for a minor public order offense.
The news about Shi on Weibo had accumulated approximately 4 million reads by Friday, with the majority of comments expressing anger toward her for supporting Li.
One comment read, “Without the military, how could you have a stable life today? You are not grateful for your words; you are not a human being!” Another comment stated, “They never thought that they would be insulted by some bad-minded youngsters years later for having defended the country.”
The controversy surrounding Li’s joke has led some comedy operators to cancel shows and has instilled fear among performers about crossing government lines. A Chinese comic residing overseas, who requested anonymity, remarked that Li’s joke had nothing to do with politics and expressed shock and desperation over the case. The comic added, “Even internet users, who have no public influence, are being pursued… The whole atmosphere has become not just official censorship but also self-censorship and mutual censorship. For a long time, in this way, one thinks and creates with fear. I feel that all areas of creativity and expression have no room for survival.”