In many countries, there’s freedom of speech. You can criticise your country’s government and leaders on, for example, television. On China’s state-run TV, you cannot. Enter Jon Stewart.
The Chinese Government controls China Central Television, or CCTV. “The role of the media as defined by the (Communist) Party is to serve the party’s interests,” David Bandurski, editor of the China Media Project website at the University of Hong Kong, explained to Asahi. And what about the lack of free speech? According to the Council on Foreign Relations, media censorship comes in the form of fear, punishment, and “self-censorship”.
Against this backdrop, CCTV recently used a Jon Stewart clip to lay into the U.S. over the Guantanamo Bay political stalemate, reports South China Morning Post (via ShangahiIst). You can watch the CCTV news clip, which is from the April 30 episode of The Daily Show, below.
As SCMP points out, state television’s attempt to poke fun at the US with Stewart backfired online in China, with people saying that CCTV was being hypocritical and missing the irony.
“There are so many problems happening domestically that you choose not to broadcast every day, but instead choose to smell the farts of other countries,” one Chinese commenter wrote in video’s comment section.
“This is our country’s mainstream media… They just want to divert our attention to problems [of other countries] away from poisonous ginger, tainted milk, gutter oil and undrinkable tap water,” quipped another.
According to SCMP, others said CCTV was dishing out a “low blow”, especially in a country where political satire shows are few and far between. “At least they are free [in the US] to criticise their president openly on television,” added another individual on the country’s micro-blogging service.
One reason perhaps why CCTV’s effort to use Stewart failed could be that he, as The New Yorker pointed out, already has a sizeable following online in China, where his clips are fan translated and rack up millions of views. People know who Stewart is and what he does. But as popular as Stewart is becoming online in China, The Daily Show, or “Meiri Xiu” (“Everyday Show”) as it’s called in Chinese, is not offered via official broadcast channels.
As one Chinese micro-blogger asked earlier this spring, “When will China have its own Jon Stewart?” Probably when state-run TV realises it should serve the viewers’ interests instead of the Communist Party’s.