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Revolutionary Martyrs ‘Slandered’

Rage Comic, a popular online cartoon and video platform, has fallen prey to China’s recently passed Law on the Protection of Heroes and Martyrs. Taking effect on 1 May 2018, the Law requires all of Chinese society to respect heroes and martyrs of the Communist Party, and subjects anyone who fails to do so to civil or even criminal charges. The recent turbulence surrounding Rage Comic resulted from a 58-second video it posted on 8 May 2018 on Toutiao, a Beijing-based news content platform. In its video, Rage Comic made fun of Dong Cunrui, a People’s Liberation Army soldier who is both famous and revered in China for his brave self-sacrifice in order to destroy a Kuomintang bunker during China’s War of Liberation. Playing on the rhyme between ‘bunker’ and ‘burger’ in Chinese, Rage Comic substituted the former with the latter and, thus, turned Hero Dong into a starving diner. This joke backfired, however. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism ordered the Cultural Department in Shaanxi Province, where the company is based, to impose executive punishment on Rage Comic. CEO Ren Jia first apologised on Weibo on 17 May, stating that the company would reflect on its grave mistake and educate all its staff on pertinent laws and regulations. On 23 May, he brought his employees to the Cemetery of Martyr Dong Cunrui in Hebei Province, laying a wreath there and reading out an apology letter. Despite all these efforts, the website of Rage Comic is still closed for ‘maintenance’. Toutiao has also been under official investigation for having failed to oversee its platform. Rage Comic and Toutiao aside, Sougou and Douyin, a popular Chinese search engine and video platform respectively, have also received official punishments for publishing content that insulted ‘heroic deeds and spirits’ on their platforms. NLiu

(Sources: China Daily; China Digital Times; Global Times; QQ News; Sohu; Wall Street Journal)

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