Chi­nese tele­vi­sion host gets sus­pen­sion fol­low­ing in­sults about Mao Ze­dong

The China Post - - GUIDE POST -

One of China’s most fa­mous tele­vi­sion hosts has had his shows taken off air af­ter al­legedly in­sult­ing Com­mu­nist China’s found­ing fa­ther Mao Ze­dong, ac­cord­ing to re­ports.

State broad­caster CCTV said it was in­ves­ti­gat­ing Bi Fu­jian for hav­ing caused a “se­ri­ous so­cial im­pact.”

A video posted on­line showed Bi — who has hosted CCTV’s New Year Gala, the most watched tele­vi­sion pro­gram in the world — call­ing Mao a “son of a bitch” and mock­ing the rev­o­lu­tion­ary leader while singing in Pek­ing Opera style at a din­ner.

Bi’s pro­grams will be taken off the air for four days, In­ter­net news por­tal Ten­cent re­ported, cit­ing CCTV staff.

Ear­lier this week Nie Chenxi, the deputy chief of China’s cen­sor­ship author­ity, moved across to head CCTV, the first non-jour­nal­ist to lead the chan­nel in 30 years.

In the video, Bi is seen par­o­dy­ing a song from “Tak­ing Tiger Moun­tain by Strat­egy,” one of the eight model op­eras al­lowed dur­ing the Cul­tural Revo­lu­tion.

Aside from di­rectly in­sult­ing Mao, Bi punc­tu­ated lines from the song with “we’ve suf­fered enough,” a ref­er­ence to the harsh con­di­tions or­di­nary peo­ple en­dured through­out Mao’s rule, which ended with his death in 1976.

Chi­nese so­cial me­dia were filled with com­ments both sup­port­ing and crit­i­ciz­ing Bi.

“He was only fired be­cause he’s a public fig­ure, and be­cause we don’t have free­dom of speech in this coun­try,” said one poster Thurs­day on China’s Twit­ter­like mi­croblog­ging ser­vice Sina Weibo.

“He must be pun­ished, one must not in­sult the found­ing leader, that’s the bot­tom line,” said an­other.

But au­thor­i­ties ap­peared to dis­cour­age fur­ther dis­cus­sion of Bi’s an­tics. Ac­cord­ing to China Dig­i­tal Times, an over­seas me­dia watch­dog, a pro­pa­ganda or­der de­clared: “All web­sites are to find and delete the in­de­cent video of Bi Fu­jian par­o­dy­ing a song.

“Cool down re­lated dis­cus­sions, and stop hyp­ing the story,” it added.

An op-ed in the Global Times, af­fil­i­ated with the of­fi­cial Com­mu­nist Party mouth­piece the Peo­ple’s Daily, con­demned Bi.

“It should be noted that even though it was only for fun, Bi’s adap­ta­tion of the epic play is quite vul­gar,” said the ar­ti­cle, by­lined Shen Ren­ping.

“If what he sang is re­ally what he thinks, then it is un­der­stand­able that many peo­ple are dis­ap­pointed in him.”

Dur­ing his time in power Mao was at the apex of a vast per­son­al­ity cult.

An­a­lysts say cur­rent Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping has presided over one of the harsh­est crack­downs on free­dom of ex­pres­sion in re­cent years, with public fig­ures who do not fol­low the Party line quickly si­lenced.

Last month five women’s rights cam­paign­ers were de­tained af­ter plan­ning a se­ries of public events to raise aware­ness of sex­ual ha­rass­ment ahead of In­ter­na­tional Women’s Day.

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