John Oliver censored by Chinese social media site over scathing Xi Jinping skit

Lucia Binding
John Oliver has been scrubbed from a social media platform in China: Getty Images

British comedian John Oliver has been censored from Chinese social media after he ran a 20-minute segment satirising Chinese president Xi Jinping.

New posts mentioning his name or the American show he hosts, Last Week Tonight, have been blocked on the microblogging site Weibo.

Oliver criticised Mr Xi on removal of term limits, which has essentially allowed him to remain in power for life, as well as China’s economic leverage.

He added that Mr Xi has “gone out of his way to form a cult of personality" in the Sunday night episode.

Ironically, one of his critiques focused on censorship.

He said: "While China has never exactly been known as a haven for free expression, (Xi) has clamped down noticeably on any form of dissent whatsoever.”

Following the scathing segment, Chinese censors soon wiped any posts related to Oliver and his show from Weibo.

While users can still search his name, all recent content has been deleted – with the latest post being from June 12 – a week before the Last Week Tonight episode aired.

A search for the show’s name in Mandarin also yields no results.

Attempts to publish posts mentioning Oliver’s name or the name of the show results in an error message stating the post violates “relevant laws, regulations, or violates Weibo’s community rules.”

Oliver has not yet been censored on other large Chinese social media platforms including QQ, Baidu and WeChat.

Chinese President Xi Jinping with US President Donald Trump (AFP/Getty Images)

In his take down of Mr Xi’s leadership, Oliver covered human rights abuses and the “dystopian levels of surveillance and persecution” of Uighurs in China’s western’s province.

He also spoke of the continued detention of Liu Xia – the wife of Chinese dissident Liu Xiaboo – who died last year in state custody.

"Under Xi Jinping, China is becoming more authoritarian, just as it has major plans for expansion onto the world stage," her said.

"It is arguably more important than ever that America be strategic and tactical about how to deal with China."

Some parts of the episode were light-hearted, with Oliver joking about Mr Xi’s alleged “insecurity” about his resemblance to Winnie the Pooh.