Chi­nese TV host says sorry for com­ments about Mao Ze­dong

The China Post - - SPORTS - BY DIDI TANG

A popular Chi­nese tele­vi­sion celebrity has apol­o­gized for in­sult­ing the founder of Com­mu­nist China, af­ter his re­marks at a pri­vate din­ner caused a stir in China and rekin­dled de­bate on the com­pli­cated le­gacy of the rev­o­lu­tion­ary fig­ure.

Bi Fu­jian, the host of the tal­ent show “Av­enue of Stars” at the state broad­caster China Cen­tral Tele­vi­sion, is­sued the apol­ogy late Thurs­day on his per­sonal mi­croblog that has 1.3 mil­lion fol­low­ers.

“I feel ex­tremely guilty, and my heart aches,” Bi wrote. “I sin­cerely ex­pressed my deep apol­ogy to the public.” Bi said, as a public fig­ure, he would draw a les­son and bet­ter dis­ci­pline him­self.

In a home video that cir­cu­lated widely on­line be­fore cen­sors re­moved it this week, Bi ap­par­ently was amus­ing his au­di­ence at a pri­vate din­ner by singing a rev­o­lu­tion­ary song about Com­mu­nist Party-led sol­diers bat­tling ban­dits in north­east­ern China in the 1940s.

To the laugh­ter of guests, Bi adds his own com­men­tary in a speak­ing voice be­tween lines.

Af­ter the lyrics men­tion Mao, Bi refers to him us­ing a vul­gar Chi­nese in­sult that in­cludes a ref­er­ence to fe­male gen­i­tals, and says “he has ru­ined us all.” Bi also mocks the sol­diers, sug­gest­ing their bat­tles were point­less and the song’s claim of victory boast­ful.

The in­ci­dent re­newed de­bate both on free speech and about Mao, who many Chi­nese feel should be held re­spon­si­ble for dis­as­trous pe­ri­ods such the 1959-1961 famine and the chaos un­leashed by the decade-long Cul­tural Revo­lu­tion in 1966 when Mao ap­pealed di­rectly to the masses to root out re­ac­tionar­ies.

Though some of Mao’s poli­cies have been of­fi­cially cri­tiqued, the rul­ing Com­mu­nist Party can hardly re­nounce him be­cause it has built much of its le­git­i­macy upon the im­agery sur­round­ing the rev­o­lu­tion­ary leader. A huge por­trait of him still hangs in the heart of Bei­jing.

Bi’s re­marks have caused a stir in China, drawing stern crit­i­cisms from state me­dia and staunch and vo­cal sup­port­ers of Mao. But oth­ers ar­gue he should not be per­se­cuted for the pri­vate com­ments.

CCTV an­nounced Wed­nes­day that launched an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the in­ci­dent.

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