Shows in China canceled frequently after comedian ‘arrested after parodying Xi Jinping’ case

External pressure and self-censorship frequent after Li Haos incident

BEIJING=Junwoo Park Correspondent

Following the arrest of comedian Li Haosi (李昊石)메이저사이트 for parodying former President Xi Jinping’s remarks, various performances in China have been canceled or suspended, leading to a wave of “censorship” in the cultural world.

According to the Reuters-Bloomberg news agency on Feb. 20, comedy performance companies, including Beijing Stand Up Cultural Media, canceled plans to perform in Beijing the previous day for no particular reason. On the same day, a live performance of “soul-soothing acoustic music” near Beijing’s airport was also canceled by Chinese public security officials. Most of the canceled events cited “unforeseen circumstances,” which is a euphemism used in China when public security or government agencies enforce rules to stop activities deemed harmful to the state or society, Bloomberg explained.

Officials speculated that the situation may have been triggered by the Li Haos incident that occurred on March 13. Earlier, Chinese comedian Li Haos was arrested for insulting the People’s Liberation Army while hosting a talk show on Nov. 13 after he parodied Xi’s remarks at the 2013 party congress, in which he emphasized the need to build a strong military, by recounting his experience adopting two abandoned dogs, and his agency was fined 13.38 million yuan (about 2.55 billion won) and ordered to confiscate 1.35 million yuan in ill-gotten gains.

Experts have analyzed that Xi’s “one-man rule” is a process of solidifying an authoritarian form, where every word and action is “subject to censorship. While there has been censorship in the past, with clear lines that performers have been able to navigate without crossing, the blurring of those lines is causing confusion for those involved. “Against this backdrop, the Lihao’s case has the potential to frighten people and lead them down a path of intense self-censorship,” said David Bandursky, director of the China Media Project.