The organizer of a talk show during which a comedian made a joke that angered the People's Liberation Army and had an adverse impact on society was fined, and all of its shows in Beijing were suspended indefinitely, the Beijing Municipal Culture and Tourism Bureau said in a statement on Wednesday.
On Saturday, the Beijing Cultural Market Comprehensive Law Enforcement Team received a complaint that Li Haoshi, a comedian whose stage name is House, made an inappropriate joke about the PLA's motto during a talk show held in Beijing by the Shanghai Xiaosheng Culture Media Company.
During his standup performance on Saturday, Li said that he had adopted two stray dogs that like to run wild and chase squirrels. He said his pets' behavior made him think of "maintain excellent conduct, can fight and win", words that are part of the PLA's motto.
The joke, which Li told during two shows on Saturday, severely insulted the PLA forces and had a strong negative impact on society, according to the statement. Furthermore, the joke wasn't part of the script used for his performance, and it was something he deliberately added in, it said.
The company has violated the Regulation on the Administration of Commercial Performances, which states that the contents of commercial performances shouldn't harm social values, it added.
After investigating, the law enforcement team decided to impose administrative penalties on the company, including confiscating 1.33 million yuan ($190,000) in illegal gains and issuing a fine of 13.35 million yuan.
Further legal action is also expected to be taken against parties involved in the case, including Li and the venue operator.
Meanwhile, the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Culture and Tourism has decided to indefinitely suspend all of the company's performances in the capital, the statement said.
It said that no one will be allowed to deliberately insult PLA forces and hurt the deep feelings that Chinese people have for the soldiers during any performance in Beijing. It also said that any act such as Li's that makes light of serious matters for entertainment purposes should also be prohibited.
The law enforcement team will adhere to strict supervision and law enforcement, and resolutely target behavior that focuses on financial gain without social responsibility.
Netizens and the PLA have responded strongly to Li's joke on Chinese social media, deeming it inappropriate, provocative and insulting.
In response, the Shanghai Xiaoguo Culture Media Company, the parent company of Xiaosheng, said in a statement on Wednesday that the incident exposed major loopholes in show management.
The company has terminated its contract with Li and has taken disciplinary action against its senior management team. It will suspend all shows around China for review, the company's statement said.