HONG KONG — In a 20-minute phase about China that aired Sunday on the satirical information present “Final Week Tonight,” the host John Oliver introduced up President Xi Jinping’s resemblance to Winnie the Pooh.
That, amongst different delicate references, appears to have touched a nerve in China, the place the British comic has now been censored on a serious social media platform — simply because the cartoon bear had been.
“Apparently, Xi Jinping may be very delicate about his perceived resemblance to Winnie the Pooh,” Mr. Oliver stated on the present. “And I’m not even certain it’s that sturdy a resemblance, to be sincere. However the reality he’s aggravated about it means individuals won’t ever cease bringing it up.”
Makes an attempt to create posts containing the phrases “John Oliver” on Weibo, a preferred Chinese language microblogging platform, resulted in an error message on Thursday saying the put up might violate “guidelines and rules.” Fairly a couple of posts mentioning Mr. Oliver had been seen on the platform, however none referred to the China episode, and the latest had been posted a couple of days earlier than it aired.
In Sunday’s phase, Mr. Oliver walked viewers by way of Mr. Xi’s rise, turning into China’s strongest chief since Mao Zedong. In addition to joking about the Winnie the Pooh ban — which censors imposed after social media users began pointing out the resemblance — Mr. Oliver made harder-hitting critiques of China’s human rights record, including its “dystopian levels of surveillance and persecution” of Uighur Muslims and the imprisonment of dissidents like the Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo.
He also said that by removing presidential term limits, Mr. Xi was dismantling important safeguards. “It’s worth knowing that the term limits he had successfully eliminated were put in place for a pretty good reason, specifically to avoid another Mao, under whose regime some horrific things happened in China,” Mr. Oliver said.
He added that Mr. Xi’s concern for his public image stemmed from his fear of an Arab Spring-style revolt as China’s economic growth slows.
“Clamping down on Winnie the Pooh comparisons doesn’t exactly project strength,” Mr. Oliver said. Instead, it suggested “a weird insecurity.”
Follow Tiffany May on Twitter: @NYtmay.
Claire Fu contributed analysis from Beijing.