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HomeNewsThe Music Scene In Beijing Is Being Affected By The Comedic Crackdown

The Music Scene In Beijing Is Being Affected By The Comedic Crackdown

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A crackdown on China’s thriving comedy culture was sparked by a remark by a stand-up comedian that was perceived to be mocking the military. However, it doesn’t end there. Targeting of musical concerts comes as the nation’s live entertainment industry is just beginning to recover from years of Covid restrictions. Stephen McDonell, a China correspondent for the BBC, provides updates from Beijing.

The mosh pit grows and shrinks as bodies collide with one another.

What could come across as harsh and violent is actually a joyful, upbeat celebration of music and everyone’s enjoyment.

There are grins all around after waiting years to be free of China’s Covid restrictions.

Laughter, fun, and relief.

Just as the human wave is about to hit, a friend hands me a drink, and I am drawn into it, spilling the contents of my cup all over the people around me. Nobody is concerned. It merely intensifies the intended turmoil. It’s a warm evening, and we’ll all quickly dry off.

In a nation where the Communist Party keeps a close eye on cultural events, the capital’s underground music culture has remained active, authentic, cheeky, and original. It’s a world that dullard authorities can generally not understand.

A venue owner once related to me how a local government official had come to visit and had inquired about the location of the tables and chairs in the area in front of the stage. The proprietor made an effort to explain why the consumers would rather live without them.

He claimed he could almost see the official’s mind working: they don’t want to sit down. what? Why?

This dynamic environment has always been centred in Beijing. Every kid with a guitar in their hands, staring at their trainers and a brooding collection of love songs who wants to play live drifts into this metropolis.


Before three years of severe Covid restrictions forced some venues out of business, rising prices and gentrification already posed significant difficulties. But the music swiftly resumed as the government abruptly changed its zero-Covid policy.

A return to live music was eagerly anticipated by audiences, bands eager to play, and establishments anxious to raise money to cover costs.

Everything was going well until stand-up comedian Li Haoshi cracked a now-famous joke.

He recounted two dogs chasing a squirrel during his live performance and advised them to “adopt a good style of work” so they could “fight and win battles.” Chinese President Xi Jinping has used this phrase to honour the People’s Liberation Army.

After the joke’s audio was shared on social media, ultra-nationalists weaponized it and even singled out the crowd for laughing at it.

Li was held captive. His employment with Xiaoguo Culture, his former employer, had already come to an end. Li was held captive. His employment at Xiaoguo Culture had already been terminated as a result of a significant fine.

Police said they had launched a formal investigation into the practise, which they claimed had “caused a severe social impact.” As a result, he is likely to be given a prison sentence.

The most well-known comedy troupe in China has had its performances in Beijing and Shanghai cancelled, and there are worries that venues won’t want to schedule stand-up concerts in the future due to the risk they now pose. Clearly, the message has spread that comedic performances need to be moderated.

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