Chinese comedian’s jokes about killer earthquakes cause uproar

The 2008 Sichuan earthquake killed tens of thousands of people. File Photo by Wu Hong/EPA-EFE

May 14 (UPI) — A popular Chinese comedian’s jokes about horrific earthquakes and comfort women are landing him in hot water, months after he made the online video statements in 2018.

Video clips of Zhang Yunlei, 27, went viral on Sunday on Chinese social media on the 11th anniversary of the 2008 Wenchuan or Sichuan earthquake, state tabloid Global Times reported.

The earthquake may have killed between 69,000 and 87,000 people, but Zhang had no reservations using the tragedy as fodder for jokes broadcast last year, according to the South China Morning Post.

Zhang not only made lighthearted fun of the 2008 earthquake but also joked about the 2010 Yushu earthquake in Qinghai province, and a 1976 Tangshan earthquake in Hebei province that killed nearly 250,000 people.

“My oldest sister went to Tangshan after marriage, the second sister to Wenchuan and my third sister to Yushu, moving all far away,” Zhang said in his joke. “Luckily, they all survived.”

Earthquakes killed thousands, sometimes tens of thousands of people in all three areas.

Strong public opposition to Zhang’s past jokes was noted in state media. The People’s Daily reported many commenters said national disasters should not be the subject of jokes.

The Chinese Communist Party’s Committee of Political and Legal Affairs said entertainers “without morals” are “nothing.” The committee warned other celebrities against making similar mistakes, according to the Global Times.

Other clips show Zhang joking about comfort women — women in China who were recruited as sex slaves during Japan’s occupation of China during World War II, according to the Post.


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