A Malaysian comedian has been banned from China’s Twitter-like social media platform, days after he published clips from a live show predicting his skits about Beijing’s heavily censored politics and Chinese leader Xi Jinping would land him in trouble.
Nigel Ng, who performs under the persona “Uncle Roger,” last week posted a trailer of his new show on Twitter, in which he jokes about China’s surveillance state and begs the Chinese Communist Party not to “make him disappear.”
“Uncle Roger about to get canceled,” Ng wrote on Twitter last Tuesday alongside a clip of his show.
By Saturday his account on China’s highly censored Weibo platform had been barred from creating new posts. A message on the page said Ng was blocked “due to the violation of relevant laws and regulations,” but gave no further details.
CNN has reached out to both Ng and Weibo for comment.
Ng’s full stand-up show is slated for video release on June 4, the anniversary of the bloody 1989 crackdown on democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square that is a highly sensitive date for Chinese authorities.
His suspension comes at a time of renewed focus on how Beijing’s authoritarian leadership views comedy and cracks down on those deemed to have crossed political red lines.
Last week a joke by Chinese comedian Li Haoshi that made a loose reference to the army sparked a huge backlash from authorities, who fined the entertainment company he worked for more $2 million and banned it from staging performances in major cities.
Police also launched an investigation into Li, who now faces the prospect of jail time. Li, who has canceled all his work, also had his posting rights taken away by Weibo.
‘Don’t make him disappear’
Ng, 32, shot to fame three years ago with a video of Uncle Roger – an outspoken middle-aged man who speaks with a thick Malaysian-English accent – making fun of BBC Food presenter Hersha Patel’s way of cooking Chinese-style egg-fried rice.
The video has now been viewed 34 million times.
The sketch Ng posted on Twitter last week was filmed at his recent stand-up tour, which broached more political subjects.
In one clip, after learning that an audience member is from China’s southern Guangzhou city, Uncle Roger says China is a “good country.”
“We have to say that now, correct? All their phones listening,” he says, drawing laughter from the crowd.
He then says “long live President Xi,” before joking about his “social credit score going up,” a reference to China’s social-engineering style project that uses big data and a combination of rewards and punishments to incentivize good behavior.
To gasps from the audience, he also tackles the subject of Taiwan, saying it is “not a real country” and would “one day rejoin the motherland” – echoing the position of China’s Communist Party, which regards the island democracy as its own territory.
He then asks the audience member from Guangzhou to put in a good word for him with the authorities.
“Uncle Roger good comrades,” he quipped. “Don’t make him disappear please.”
It’s not the first time Ng, who was born in Kuala Lumpur and is now based in Britain, has had a brush with China’s often thorny politics – though on the previous occasion he was criticized as toeing Beijing’s line.
In 2021, Ng took down a video featuring YouTuber Mike Chen after previous remarks made by the Strictly Dumpling host on China’s human rights situation came to light.
Ng apologized at the time, saying the video “had made a bad social impact” and he was not aware of Chen’s “political thoughts and incorrect comments about China in the past.”
His approach then drew wide anger from activists who accused him of bowing to Beijing.