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$2.1 million fine proves China’s military is not to be laughed about

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(, May18’23) – Like President Xi Jinping, the Chinese military is not a matter to be laughed about and an entertainment firm – a comedy troupe – in the country has been billed with a $2.1 million fine and other punishments to prove it.

At issue was an oblique joke about the military that invoked a slogan from President Xi Jinping, likening the behaviour of a comedian’s dogs to military conduct.

The authorities have said the Shanghai Xiaoguo Culture Media Co and comic Li Haoshi had “humiliated the people’s army”.

The company has accepted the penalty and terminated Mr Li’s contract.

The offending remark was made during a stand-up performance in Beijing on May 14, when Mr Li alluded to two canines he had adopted which were chasing a squirrel.

“Other dogs you see would make you think they are adorable. These two dogs only reminded me of… ‘Fight to win, forge exemplary conduct’,” Mr Li, going by the stage name House, had said, according to May 17.

The punchline is part of the slogan that President Xi unveiled in 2013 as a goal for the Chinese military. It has since been repeated at various official occasions and in state media, noted the May 17.

The Chinese authorities have said the Shanghai Xiaoguo Culture Media Co and comic Li Haoshi had “humiliated the people’s army”. (Photo courtesy: Weibo)

In an audio recording of the performance shared on China’s Twitter-like platform Weibo, audience members can be heard laughing at the joke, noted the report.

Beijing authorities launched an investigation on May 16 after an internet audience member complained.

Following it, they confiscated 1.32m yuan of what was deemed to be illegal income, and fined the company another 13.35m yuan, the report said, citing China’s official Xinhua news agency.

Besides, Shanghai Xiaoguo’s activities in the Chinese capital have also been indefinitely suspended.

“We will never allow any company or individual use the Chinese capital as a stage to wantonly slander the glorious image of the PLA [People’s Liberation Army],” the Beijing arm of China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism Bureau has said.

Mr Li has apologised to his more than 136,000 Weibo followers. “I feel deeply shamed and regretful. I will take responsibility, stop all activities, deeply reflect, learn again.”

And his Weibo account has since been suspended.


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