fter John Oliver mocked Xi Jinping on his show last Sunday, highlighting the Chinese leader’s apparent resemblance to Winnie the Pooh and his country’s poor human rights record, HBO’s website has now been blocked in China.
In the 20-minute long Last Week Tonight segment, Oliver did a more than admirable job of giving an overview of contemporary China, discussing a number of taboo topics includingsurveillance in Xinjiang, theongoing house arrest of Liu Xia, Xi recently becoming “president for life,” and the often outlandish extremes of internet censorship.
The segment ended with aglorious parody of Chinese propaganda videosfeaturing children singing about the China that “Xi doesn’t want you to see.”
Presumably, Oliver and HBO knew that the segment was likely to be met with some response from Beijing. Last week, John Oliver’s name was censored on Weibo. This week, HBO.com became inaccessible to those in mainland China.
The website itself contains no actual streaming of shows, only listings and other information. However, this is still a frightening development for HBO, which doesn’t want to see itself cast out of the massive and lucrative Chinese market. Back in 2014, the company partnered with Tencent, allowing the Chinese tech giant exclusive rights to stream some of its series in China, including Game of Thrones.
Presumably, this is the kind of thing that Xi meant when he reportedly saidthat: “In the West, you have the notion that if somebody hits you on the left cheek, you turn the other cheek. In our culture, we punch back.”
Your move, John?