John Oliver Finds Out What Happens When You Rip on China

'Last Week Tonight' host criticized Xi Jiping, now faces scrubbing on country's version of Twitter
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 21, 2018 8:20 AM CDT

"China: the country responsible for huge technological advances, and yet it still can't seem to get pandas to f---" is how John Oliver opened Sunday's edition of Last Week Tonight. That was just the start of an episode filled with barbs aimed at the world's most populous country, and specifically at President Xi Jinping. Now it appears Oliver's brutal takedown has gotten him partly booted off Sina Weibo, China's version of Twitter, with searches for his name and the name of his show producing zero new posts, the Guardian reports. Meanwhile, users looking to post new Oliver-related content will instead receive an error message telling them their material violates "relevant laws [and] regulations" or "Weibo community rules."

The segment that apparently spurred the censoring included Oliver ripping the human rights violations said to have taken place on Xi's watch, the elimination of term limits earlier this year, "dystopian levels of surveillance and persecution," and even censorship of memes that compared the Chinese president's body to that of a popular children's book character. "Clamping down on Winnie the Pooh comparisons doesn't exactly project strength," Oliver says. "It suggests a weird insecurity." Both the Guardian and CNN note that now the only posts on Weibo containing references to Oliver or his show are dated from earlier this month, before Sunday's 20-minute segment aired. Oliver doesn't appear to be censored (at least yet) on other major social media platforms in China. (More John Oliver stories.)

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