China

Mao More Than Ever: Chinese Broadcaster in Big Trouble for Mocking Mass Killer

Then again, he does work for a state-run TV channel.

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Bi Fujian, the host of an America's Got Talent-style show on China's state-operated TV channel CCTV, is in big trouble for private remarks he made earlier in the year about Mao Zedong, the ruler of communist China from 1949 to 1976. The setting was a private dinner, where Bi was hacking around. Unfortunately for him, someone captured his comments and shared them online.

Video – which has been viewed more than 480,000 times on Youtube – shows Bi entertaining fellow diners with a rendition of a song from a Cultural Revolution era opera called Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy.

The television host peppers his table-side performance with a series of sarcastic asides about Mao, including: "Don't mention that old son of a bitch – he tormented us!"

Those "disparaging" remarks represented "a serious violation of political disciplines", China's media watchdog announced on Sunday. It called for CCTV, which had already suspended its star presenter, to impose a "severe punishment".

The Guardian notes that China's current leader, Xi Jinping, has been cracking down on all sorts of dissent (if speaking truth about a dead leader even counts) since becoming president two years ago.

More here (hat tip: Michael C. Moynihan's Twitter feed).

For the record, Mao is widely considered responsible for between 20 million and 40 million deaths. He also oversaw the creation of Laogai, a forced-labor and penal system that the Communist Party wants to keep in the dark. Go here to learn more about that.

This sort of story—not to mention the terrible treatment of artists, writers, and activists in China—is one more indication that for all its progress since Mao died, the country still has a long, long way to go is approximating the simplest forms of liberal democracy.

Milton Friedman stressed that economic liberalization typically led to politial reform as citizens became wealthier and more forceful in calling for a freer society in which they might spend their money. That seems to be playing out in China, though it's sadly true that the dynamic isn't a clean, linear one. The process is filled with steps forward and backward and those in power rarely give it up without all sorts of fights.

Watch "Killer Chic: Hollywood's Sick Love Affair Affair with Che Guevara and Other Murderers," for a terrifying true story of living in Mao's China.

NEXT: Black Lives Matter Activists Storm Bernie Sanders Rally, F-16s Arrive in Turkey for ISIS Fight, Glowing Pyramid on Ceres: A.M. Links

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  1. And that’s just in trouble from Anita Dunn.

  2. cracking down on all sorts of dissent (if speaking truth about a dead leader even counts)
    .
    Telling the truth about your rulers is always far more dangerous than telling a lie. (You might want to go back and re-read “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, maybe you missed the moral of the story.)

  3. While there is some economic liberalization going on in China, alot of it smacks more of mercantilism/ crony capitalism than free-market capitalism. I think Friedman is right when the move truly is toward the free market ala Czech Republic. It seems to me China is sort of midway between Czech Republic (true free market reforms with rule of law and private property rights) and Russia (no rule of law and just trading in commissars for mobsters with no real respect for property rights).

    1. You do know that all land in China belongs to the Chinese Communist government don’t you?

      1. Maybe that explains why they don’t have to pay property taxes over there.

  4. But, but, but, I thought that China was a capitalist paradise and had nothing to do with communism anymore?

    Whenever I mentioned that inconvenient facts that the Communist Party still runs the country and nothing gets done without it permission, the free trade = communism, comrades shout, “China is not communist anymore”. Somebody forgot to tell the communists they were no longer communists.

    1. To be fair, they do now allow private property, which is death in a “true” communist economy. Yeah, they are still ruled by Communists, but economically they’re moving away from communism. So you’re both right.

      1. What they have allowed is for purely pragmatic reasons but they have never admitted that communism is not the true way. Being the sucessors of Mao is their claim to legitimacy. Anyone speaking of Mao as a horrible tyrant and thug is calling them the heirs to a criminal regime, which cannot be allowed to stand.

        1. Yeah. It’s kind of like calling Jefferson a slaveholder, or Lincoln a racist and a crony capitalist.

          1. Except where people who do those things o. He USA are not under threat of severe punishment by the government, they are exactly alike.

        2. It’s hilarious if you get to observe from outside. None of them really believe in much that Mao thought?in fact he’s an embarrassment to them?yet he still has that icon status. What they’d like is for everyone to forget everything about him except his icon status. It wins you no points to speak well of him (except possibly to disclaim previous criticism); they’d rather you say nothing about him, period. Nobody wants to be his legatee except in the vaguest, most diffuse & generalized way.

          It’s somewhat like the status of the Armenian genocide in Turkey.

          1. He’s a little like Jehova in some religions. You’re not supposed to mention him, purport to speak of or know anything about him, or try to get him to do things. But you’re not allowed to disavow him or totally forget about him, either.

      2. Having visited China several times over the past 30 years, and traveled fairly extensively beyond the tourist track, I’d say that it’s complicated. But you can’t really understand the situation in China unless you live there and are fluent in Mandarin. My son lived there several years and is fluent in Mandarin, and he agrees: it’s complicated.

        China is economically communist to about the same extent as the US is economically capitalist. The political elite is nominally Communist, and I’ve no doubt that some fraction of the political elite is ideologically Marxist. Unfortunately for China, the Marxist political elite appears to be on the rise again.

        Things started tightening up around the time of the Bo scandal; under Xi, the Chinese government has certainly become more oppressive to undesirable political expression. Whether growing political oppression of civil liberty will eventually extend to economic oppression is another thing altogether.

        Marxist dialectic reasoning gives the Marxist ideological wing of the CCP a ready rationale for future economic oppression. However, I have not seen it advanced in Chinese media.

        All that I really know is that it is complicated.

    2. Even more inconvenient for the totalitarianism fans; China is ruled pretty much as it has been for thousands of years. A central concentration of power with unlimited theoretical authority, that authority devolving onto a rigid bureaucracy. The central concentration may be a single figure, or a small group, and may or may not be mad as a hatter. This who go along with the current fashion out of Peking will get wealth. Those who oppose it get the chop. And Peasants never count.

      Communism is a thin veneer of social-science claptrap over the brutal authoritarianism that has afflicted most of the world through most of history.

      And MY, don’t the Liberal Intellectuals resent it when you point that out.

      1. China has a history of bureaucratic centralized power. That’s been a defining difference between the sudden and exponential success of western Europe versus the centuries long stagnation of China.

  5. Punishing someone for speaking ill of the king is such a backward and barbaric practice. In more civilized countries a dissident would merely face increased scrutiny from the tax collectors.

    1. Don’t we have some obscure videomaker to throw in jail or something?

  6. Surprise, surprise, surprise!

    /Gomer Pyle

    Is anyone actually surprised? Oh, yeah – the retards and useful idiots. NEWSFLASH! China is still run as a dictatorship! It’s a tyranny! NEWSFLASH!

    1. I don’t think China has been run as a tyranny for a while; their Politburo isn’t going to give one man that kind of power for a while, and I don’t think one has managed to take it. China goes through phases; Strong Man, Warring States, and Rule by Committee being the main ones. Right now they’re in the third. Mao came to poet by winning the second, and then exemplified the first.

      1. Tyranny of many, tyranny of one – same thing to me. Strong, centralized power that controls everything it can. Tyranny.

        Like the US, only less intrusive.

      2. I don’t think China has been run as a tyranny for a while; their Politburo isn’t going to give one man that kind of power for a while

        Just because that tyranny isn’t invested in one man doesn’t make it less tyrannical. If your neighbors decided they didn’t like you and had city council declare your imminent execution, that would still be tyranny, even though the mayor didn’t unilaterally declare your execution.

  7. “Does this describe present-day China?”

    [dons sunglasses]

    “Mao or less….”

    1. *begins to narrow gaze, but quickly thinks better of it due to the racial implications*

  8. He also oversaw the creation of Laogai, a forced-labor and penal system that the Communist Party wants to keep in the dark. Go here to learn more about that.

    If Robby or some hip Millennial was on this beat, the link would’ve gone to the Avatar episode. As it ought to.

  9. For the record, Mao is widely considered responsible for between 20 million and 40 million deaths. He also oversaw the creation of Laogai, a forced-labor and penal system that the Communist Party wants to keep in the dark. Go here to learn more about that.

    You’re making american socialist all wistful.

    1. “I offered the country [traditional Chinese] medicine!”

  10. Unfortunately for him, someone captured his comments and shared them online.

    Video ? which has been viewed more than 480,000 times on Youtube ? shows Bi entertaining fellow diners with a rendition of a song from a Cultural Revolution era opera called Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy.

    Social networking: just as valuable to the state as it is to tweens sending LOLpics.

  11. Bi entertaining fellow diners with a rendition of a song from a Cultural Revolution era opera called Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy.

    He does Brian Eno very well.

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