A Chinese stand-up comedian has been hit with substantial fines by authorities, resulting in over $2 million in losses for an entertainment firm. Chinese comedian Li Haoshi, performing under the stage name House, has faced repercussions after using a phrase associated with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Beijing. During his show, he referenced a well-known Chinese Communist Party slogan associated with the PLA, stating, “Fine style work, capable of winning battles.” This phrase, originally uttered by Chinese leader Xi Jinping and repeated at official events and in state media, was deemed a serious insult to the PLA by authorities. The Beijing Municipality Bureau of Culture and Tourism imposed a fine of $1.91 million and confiscated $189,000 of “illegal gains” related to Li’s recent shows. Li and his entertainment company have issued an apology on the Chinese social media platform Weibo.

China implemented a law in 2021 that prohibits insults and slander against military personnel. In a similar case, a former investigative journalist received a seven-month prison sentence for questioning China’s portrayal of its role in the Korean War in a patriotic film. These incidents highlight the strict measures taken to safeguard the military’s image and discourage criticism in China. Following the incident, Li Haoshi (House) has been indefinitely suspended by Shanghai Xiaoguo Culture Media. While some Chinese internet users supported the penalties, viewing stand-up comedy as a low art form, there were concerns about potential further crackdowns on comedy in China.