A Chinese state television broadcaster will punish one of its top anchors who was captured on video ridiculing Mao Zedong, the founder of modern China, VoA reports.
In the video taken at a private dinner, China Central Television’s (CCTV) host Bi Fujian can be seen parodying a Cultural Revolution-era opera, Taking Tiger Mountain, before using an epithet to describe Mao.
The video went viral on Chinese social media, prompting CCTV to suspend Bi, according to some Chinese media reports.
In a statement late Wednesday, CCTV said Bi Fujian’s remarks “have had a serious social impact” and it vowed to “seriously handle the matter in line with related regulations and based on careful investigation.”
Those “disparaging” remarks represented “a serious violation of political disciplines”, China’s media watchdog announced on Sunday. It called for CCTV, which had already suspended its star presenter, to impose a “severe punishment, Guardian reports.
The China Discipline Inspection Daily, a state-run newspaper, said CCTV had been ordered to “educate its entire staff” in order to “combat behaviours that violate political disciplines and regulations.”
“There should be zero tolerance for such cases,” the Chinese daily said.
News of Bi’s punishment was splashed onto the front pages of many Chinese websites Sunday with readers weighing in on the episode with thousands of comments.
“It is really pathetic and disgusting that after all these decades, Mao is still a taboo,” wrote one.
Another commented: “Bi should be seriously punished and expelled from the party for insulting Chairman Mao.”
Bi made no immediate comment on the reports but has previously apologised for ridiculing Mao.
“I feel extremely remorseful and pained,” he wrote in an online post in April. “I sincerely offer my deepest apologies to the public.”
“Bi’s remarks were too careless,” wrote one user of Weibo, China’s Twitter. “He’s a public figure and he should have been lying low.”