China Slaps $2M Fine Following Comedian Li Haoshi’s Army Joke
In a stunning turn of events, Chinese authorities have imposed a hefty $2 million fine after popular comedian Li Haoshi cracked a joke that drew a parallel between his adopted stray dogs and the country’s military forces. Performing under the stage name House, Li playfully referenced a slogan associated with the People’s Liberation Army coined by Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping. During his performance at the Century Theater in Beijing, he quipped, “Fine style of work, capable of winning battles,” while recounting his dogs’ pursuit of a squirrel.
However, what seemed like harmless humor has led to severe consequences. Hardline officials swiftly reprimanded Shanghai Xiaoguo Culture Media, the company representing Li, with a fine of $1.91 million, and further declared that the comic’s earnings of $189,000 from his weekend shows would not be granted. “We will never allow any company or individual to wantonly slander the glorious image of the army on any stage in the capital city…or to make fun of serious subject matters,” stated Beijing regulators, urging the entertainment industry to “correct their creative thinking.”
Xiaoguo Culture acknowledged the lapse in management that allowed the unpatriotic joke and promptly terminated Li’s contract. Consequently, the comedy troupe associated with the company has been indefinitely suspended from performing in Beijing. Meanwhile, authorities initiated a separate police investigation into Li’s actions, citing “serious insults” directed at the military and the resulting “bad social impact.”
Li, who canceled his upcoming shows, expressed remorse and a commitment to self-reflection and reeducation. It is worth noting that in 2021, China enacted a law prohibiting insults and slander targeting military personnel, with previous cases leading to imprisonment, such as a reporter sentenced to seven months for questioning China’s involvement in the Korean War. Furthermore, a Chinese woman expressing discontent with Li’s punishment on social media was apprehended by authorities.