Comedian Nigel Ng’s Chinese social media accounts suspended in Beijing’s crackdown on comics

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Beijing’s crackdown on comedians continues as comedian Nigel Ng, popularly known for his stage persona Uncle Roger, faces the suspension of his Chinese social media accounts. Ng’s Weibo and Bilibili accounts, China’s equivalents of Twitter and YouTube, were frozen after he tweeted a promo clip for his upcoming show that poked fun at China’s authoritarian government. The message on his Weibo account indicates that he violated relevant laws and regulations. This incident marks Ng’s second encounter with China’s strict media environment.

Earlier, in January 2021, Ng collaborated with YouTuber Mike Chen, a critic of Beijing, in a video critiquing a dumpling recipe. After facing backlash, Ng removed the clip and issued an apology on Weibo, stating that he was unaware of Chen’s political thoughts and past incorrect remarks about China. Ng’s recent video featured a joke about being monitored by Beijing through smartphones, with a sarcastic proclamation of support for President Xi Jinping. Ng’s case follows the arrest of Chinese comedian Li Haoshi, who made a joke comparing his dogs to a military slogan. Li faces potential imprisonment of up to three years, and the company that hired him was fined a substantial amount of 14.7 million yuan ($2.1 million; £1.7 million). This harsh penalty has raised concerns about the future of stand-up comedy in China.

With Ng’s social media accounts suspended and Li Haoshi’s arrest, it appears that Beijing is intensifying its control over comedians and their content. This crackdown is part of broader efforts to regulate online expression and maintain a tighter grip on public discourse. The actions taken against Ng and Li serve as a warning to others in the comedy industry, raising fears that stand-up comedy may face extinction in the country. As comedians navigate these restrictive conditions, freedom of expression in China’s comedy scene hangs in the balance.

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