HBO’s Last Week Tonight has led to some drastic measures in China. After an episode aired on June 17th, the Chinese government is now trying to erase all signs of John Oliver on the internet.
The show had a 20-minute segment on Xi Jinping and the Chinese government. In particular, Oliver mentioned Xi’s abolition of term limits and even compared him to Mao Zedong.
Oliver also mentioned torture of political opponents, the infamous experiment to leverage WeChat data to give you a score and determine if you’re a good citizen, Tiananmen Square protests, Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo’s recent death and, yes, online censorship.
It’s a bit ironic that Oliver’s show itself is now censored in China as a result of this episode. It proves Oliver’s point that China still has a long way to go when it comes to human rights and freedom of the press.
Oliver also made sure to mention that Xi doesn’t like to be compared to Winnie the Pooh. Last year, Chinese authorities have banned all mentions of Winnie the Pooh.
According to the New York Times, many posts on social network platform Weibo mentioned John Oliver after the segment aired. Users didn’t specifically talked about the segment — they focused on the host. But now, if you try to write a post that says “John Oliver”, you’ll get an error message.
GreatFire.org also shows that HBO’s website has been blocked since Saturday or Sunday. Unless you have a working VPN or proxy solution, you won’t find Oliver anywhere on the Chinese internet. It’s impressive to see the pace of Chinese censors.