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Comedian Uncle Roger silenced on Chinese social media after China jokes


A Malaysian comedian best known for mocking Western chefs’ attempts at Asian cuisine has had his Chinese social media account suspended after making jokes about China.

Nigel Ng, who uses the name Uncle Roger, is the latest comedian to feel the consequences of jokes that could be seen to reflect negatively on China under increasingly intense censorship and growing nationalism.

Last week, a Chinese comedian was investigated by the police for a joke about stray dogs.

Ng released a music video last Thursday from an upcoming comedy special in which he pokes fun at Chinese surveillance and Beijing’s claims of sovereignty over Taiwan.

The video shows Ng interacting with someone in the audience who said they were from Guangzhou, a metropolis in southern China.

“Good country, good country, we have to say it now, don’t we?” said Ng. “All phones are listening.”

Ng then jokes with members of the public who say they are from Taiwan, a self-governing island claimed by China, saying that Taiwan is not a real country. “I hope that one day you will reach the homeland. One China,” he said.

His Weibo account said on Monday that he had been banned from posting for “violation of applicable laws and regulations”. Ng’s agency did not respond to a request for comment.

A Chinese comedian, meanwhile, could face jail time as police and government agencies investigate him for a joke he made during a performance earlier in May.

Beijing police announced last Wednesday that they were investigating comedian Li Haoshi “for severely insulting” the People’s Liberation Army.

The comedian, who goes by the stage name HOUSE, made a stray dog ​​joke by riffing on a well-known propaganda slogan used to describe the Chinese military.

Li said he adopted two dogs that were very energetic when going after squirrels, firing like artillery shells at a target.

Usually, he says, dogs are cute and melt your heart, but when he sees his two dogs, he thinks of the Chinese phrase, “Capable of winning battles, with top-notch style.”

The phrase was first used 10 years ago by Chinese leader Xi Jinping to describe planned reforms for China’s military, according to the China Media Project, which studies Chinese media.

A government department known as the Beijing Cultural Market Comprehensive Law Enforcement Team said in a statement last week that it had received information from the public about Li’s performance on May 13 and has launched in response an investigation into the company with which Li is signed.

The law enforcement team said they would fine the company, Xiao Guo Wenhua, about $2 million (13.3 million yuan). The company did not respond to a request for comment.

An unnamed officer at Beijing police headquarters declined to say whether Li was in custody or arrested, saying the investigation was continuing and the results would be made public accordingly.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.