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Comedian behind Uncle Roger silenced on Chinese social media after jokes about China

A Malaysian comedian better known for mocking attempts by Western chefs at Asian cooking has had his Chinese social media account suspended after making jokes about China.

Nigel Ng, who plays a character named Uncle Roger, is the latest comedian to feel the consequences of jokes that could be perceived as reflecting negatively on China under increasingly intense censorship and rising nationalism.

Last week, a Chinese comedian came under police investigation for a joke about stray dogs.

Ng posted a video clip last Thursday from an upcoming comedy special in which he pokes fun at Chinese surveillance and Beijing’s claims of sovereignty over Taiwan.

The video shows Ng interacting with someone in the audience who said he is from Guangzhou, a metropolis in China’s south.

“Good country, good country, we have to say that now, correct?” Ng says. “All the phones listening.”

Ng then jokes with members of the audience who said they’re from Taiwan, a self-governed island claimed by China, saying Taiwan is not a real country. “I hope one day you rejoin the motherland. One China,” he said.

His Weibo account said on Monday that he was banned from posting for “violating relevant laws and regulations.” Ng’s agency did not respond to a request for comment.

A Chinese comedian, meanwhile, could face jail time as police and government departments investigate him for a joke he made at a performance earlier in May.

Beijing police announced last Wednesday that they were investigating comedian Li Haoshi “for severely insulting” the People’s Liberation Army.

The comedian, who goes by the stage name HOUSE, made a joke about stray dogs by riffing on a well-known propaganda slogan used to describe the Chinese military.

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Li said he had adopted two dogs who were very energetic when they went after squirrels, shooting off like artillery shells after a target.

Usually, he said, dogs are cute and melt your heart, but when he sees his two dogs, he thinks of the Chinese phrase, “Able to win battles, with first-rate style.”

The phrase was first used 10 years ago by Chinese leader Xi Jinping to describe planned reforms for the Chinese military, according to the China Media Project, which studies Chinese media.

A government department known as Beijing’s Comprehensive Team of Law Enforcement on Cultural Market said in a statement last week it had received tips from the public about Li’s performance on May 13 and in response launched an investigation into the company Li is signed with.

The law enforcement team said it would fine the company, Xiao Guo Wenhua, about $2 million (13.3 million yuan). The company did not respond to a request for comment.

An officer who did not give his name at Beijing’s police headquarters declined to say whether Li was under detention or arrest, saying the investigation was continuing and the results would be publicized accordingly.

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Associated Press reporter Kanis Leung in Hong Kong contributed to this report.

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