China Fines 2.5 Billion for Speech…and Another “Shut Up!”
One word and you’re fired from your job and the company you work for is on the verge of shutting down. That’s what happened to a Chinese stand-up comedian known as “House” and his agency.
The fine imposed on the agency alone was 13.35 million yuan, over a quarter of a billion of our money. They were also ordered to forfeit about 250 million won in property.
■What the hell were they talking about?
Comedian Li Hao, who goes by the moniker “House,” performed a show in Beijing on March 13 based on two stray dogs he adopted.
In the process, he described how the stray dogs he adopted were chasing a squirrel.
“It reminded me of the saying, if you have a good attitude (作風優良) and fight, you win (能打勝仗). -House (as quoted by Chinese media outlet Neibo)
If you look at the literal translation from Chinese, there doesn’t seem to be a problem. After all, it describes the momentum of a stray dog running after a squirrel.
Comedian House (Source: Baidu)
But as soon as House’s remarks came to light, China went ballistic.
That’s because the phrase “good attitude, fight, win” happened to come from Chinese President Xi Jinping, who first used it in 2013 when he laid out a new look for the People’s Liberation Army, the so-called “12-character policy,” a new set of goals for strengthening the PLA.
“We must build an army that follows the party’s command, wins when it fights, and has a good (excellent) attitude (聽黨指揮-能打勝仗-作風優良).” – Chinese President Xi Jinping, during his remarks at the 2013 Party Congress
The coordinator “house” is a partial translation of the phrase “fight and win, good attitude” to describe a stray dog.
■Chinese authorities launch investigation…some Chinese netizens also react
Chinese authorities, state media, and netizens have reacted strongly to what they see as an insult to the People’s Liberation Army.
The People’s Daily, an organ of the Chinese Communist Party, posted a commentary on the Chinese social media site Weibo, saying, “If you step on the line for a one-sided laugh, you will fall into error.” “You should have fear in your heart, be careful with your words, and have a pause in your actions.” “This should be the bottom line of the profession and the consensus of the industry.”
In short, the argument is that it’s not just the use of President Xi’s words in comedy, but the use of a phrase that characterizes the People’s Liberation Army to describe a stray dog that is “problematic. The anger is clear: how dare anyone associate dogs with the PLA.
The city of Beijing has also launched an investigation into the incident, emphasizing that “the People’s Army is a strong guardian of national security and the well-being of the people먹튀검증, and we cannot tolerate any behavior that tarnishes the image of the People’s Army or hurts the people’s deep affection for the soldiers of the People’s Army,” and that “the People’s Army must not be used as a vehicle for laughter.”
■Waves of controversy…Netizens who mention the military are also ‘detained’
The Beijing venue where comedian House allegedly performed (Source: Baidu)
In response to the outpouring of criticism, House’s agency apologized for the inappropriate analogy and suspended him indefinitely.
However, despite the agency’s apology, Chinese authorities launched an investigation into House and his agency, resulting in a fine of 2.5 billion won and the confiscation of 300 million won in property. The agency that organized the talk show and the venue officials are also under investigation.
A netizen who was detained for comments related to the military (Source: Weibo)
The Chinese authorities went further and detained a 34-year-old woman who had mentioned the military and dogs together on social media in opposition to the suspension of House’s activities, citing inappropriate comments related to soldiers.
According to public security authorities, the woman was placed under administrative detention after admitting to making inappropriate comments about soldiers on the internet to express personal grievances.
At this point, it’s safe to say that in China, no words are off limits when it comes to the People’s Liberation Army – they’re “sacred,” as the People’s Daily put it, and this incident is a reminder that people living in China should once again “live with fear in their hearts and watch their words.