YouTube deletes another satirical channel that targeted Xi Jinping

The channel's producer says her content should have been exempt from the platform's cyberbullying policy.
By Yitong Wu for RFA Cantonese
2023.10.10
YouTube deletes another satirical channel that targeted Xi Jinping A sampling of videos that were available on the now-defunct Voice_of_Chonglang YouTube channel shows several devoted to Chinese President Xi Jinping.
RFA screenshot

YouTube has once more deleted a channel that produced satirical spoof videos featuring ruling Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping, sparking further concerns over whether the Chinese government is exploiting the social media giant’s copyright rules.

The @Voice_of_Chonglang channel, which frequently used the #InsultTheBun hashtag referencing Xi's fondness for steamed baozi buns, was deleted from the global video-sharing platform on Oct. 5.

"The consequences of cyberbullying against Xi Jinping," the channel's X account commented ironically on the move, which comes after YouTube deleted a similar channel titled @RutersXiaoFanQi in February.

The woman behind @Voice_of_Chonglang said she had received no warning of the ban, just an email informing her that the channel had seriously or repeatedly violated its cyberbullying policy.

YouTube bans content that "targets someone with prolonged insults or slurs based on their physical traits or protected group status, like age, disability, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or race," according to its help page.

However, the rules make an exception for "debates related to high-profile officials or leaders" and insults made as part of "scripted satire" and "diss tracks."

The channel producer said she had complained to YouTube by email, but that her email was bounced back after five minutes.

She said she could only guess that her channel was deleted for "insulting" Xi Jinping, citing a recent video satirizing Xi, including his notorious claim to have hefted a 200-pound sack of wheat without changing shoulders.

"YouTube didn't notify me which part of my videos had violated the rules, so I thought it must be that ... I was deleted for 'bullying Xi Jinping,'" she said, citing similar action taken against @GFWFrog a while ago.

"My channel probably offended this leader ... The Chinese Communist Party likely had online commentators make repeated complaints," she said.

She added: "I think we should make fun of Xi Jinping."

RFA contacted YouTube about the woman’s claims but had yet to receive a response by the time of publishing.

Satirists vs. 'serious' dissidents

@GFWFrog said satirists are typically more likely to be targeted by malicious reporting by supporters of Beijing than "serious" dissident channels.

"The way YouTube handled things this time was more harsh and less transparent than before," he said. "Clearly, keeping up a glorious, sacred and inviolable image of Xi Jinping is top priority for the lackeys of the Chinese Communist Party."

ENG_CHN_YouTubeCensorship_10062023.2.jpg
The woman who ran the Voice_of_Chonglang channel says she could only guess that YouTube deleted it for 'insulting' Xi Jinping. Credit: Reuters file photo

He cited a string of similar incidents, including a takedown request for one of his own YouTube videos satirizing Xi.

"There are only two possibilities," @GFWFrog said. "One is that YouTube's Chinese content review team has been successfully infiltrated by the Chinese Communist Party, and the other is that [there are issues with] YouTube's reporting and review mechanisms being ... abused by the Chinese Communist Party."

"Both of those [explanations] are totally unacceptable."

'Hunting club' targeted

Last month, a group of gamers calling themselves the "Hunting Club" took to a live stream within the homegrown Chinese multiplayer online battle game Party Animals to call for "one person, one vote to elect the president" of China, and for "the beheading of the traitor-dictator Xi Jinping," as well as "Never forget June 4, 1989," the date of the Tiananmen massacre.

Internet censors quickly pulled the plug on the live stream and banned overseas-based players from making broadcasts.

Similar measures were put in place by the producers of the online game Goose Goose Duck in January after gamers tricked live stream anchors into calling out gamer handles linked to disgraced figures and party leaders.

Hunting Club member Bot-666 said they used an overseas-registered email address to join the game and made the comments to allow the younger generation behind the Great Firewall "hear the voice of freedom."

Another Hunting Club activist, Luo Jiusan EIF00, said: "The cyber prison that the Chinese Communist Party has spent hundreds of billions of dollars and taken such pains to build seems so ridiculous and absurd, when you can hear the words "Behead the dictator Xi Jinping" and "Heaven will destroy the Communist Party" repeated in a live stream. 

"This is what we were aiming for."

ENG_CHN_YouTubeCensorship_10062023.3.jpg
Last month, gamers in a live stream within the homegrown Chinese online game 'Party Animals' called for 'one person, one vote to elect the president' of China, and for 'the beheading of the traitor-dictator Xi Jinping.' Credit: RFA screenshot

Another member, who gave the nickname Brother Duty said the group is now under intense scrutiny by China's cyber police, with some hauled in for questioning by police and three currently incommunicado, believed detained.

"We won't give up despite all of this," the gamer said. "We will continue our activities."

YouTuber Voice_of_Chonglang said in an interview at the time that the #InsultTheBun hashtag is a direct reaction to extreme controls on freedom of speech in Xi's China.

Other accounts suspended

Bot-666 told Radio Free Asia that Twitter had also suspended a large number of accounts that were maliciously reported by supporters of Beijing, also citing the closure of @RutersXiaoFanQi, which was once more in operation on YouTube on Oct. 6.

"[Those bans] and [the] suspension of @Voice_of_Chonglang's channel highlight the Chinese Communist Party’s frequent long-arm tactics targeting anti-communist voices on overseas platforms," Bot-666 said.

"I personally believe that content review mechanisms on these social platforms need to be improved and strengthened to prevent online content from being manipulated by malicious actors funded by the Chinese Communist Party," they said.

Translated by Luisetta Mudie.

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COMMENTS

Wangchuk
Oct 13, 2023 01:19 PM

This is ridiculous. You can cyber bully the dictator of the PRC. Xi Jinping has the world's largest army. When it comes to criticism or parody, political leaders are fair game, especially someone who is responsible for the genocide against Tibetans & Uyghurs. The CCP actually bullies Tibetans, Uyghurs, Hongkongers and Chinese people in real life and they are concerned about comments against Xi Jinping on the internet?