The creators of satirical animated series "South Park" have issued an "official apology" to China, although not without a fair bit of sarcasm.
The move follows the October 6 episode of the show entitled "Band in China" in which a character in the show is subjected to forced labour and re-education after being jailed during a visit to the country.
South Park was subsequently blocked by Chinese censors. Fans looking for the show on Chinese search engine Weibo found the message “according to the relevant law and regulation, this section is temporarily not open.” The same message awaits would-be viewers on Baidu Tieba and other channels.
This prompted the show’s creators to issue an ‘apology.’ "We welcome the Chinese censors into our homes and hearts," it said. "Long live the Communist Party!" The ‘apology’ ended: "Long live the Great Communist Party of China! May this autumn's sorghum [a cereal crop] harvest be bountiful! We good now China?”
The show’s creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone have often flirted with censorship. In 2010, an episode portraying the Muslim prophet Mohammad was intended to show the character on-screen, but outrage and threats against the show prompted them to release the episode with some very over-the-top self-censorship of the scene. Muslims believe images of the prophet Mohammad to be highly offensive.
South Park isn’t the only American institution to offend China in recent days. On 7 October, Daryl Morey, manager of the Houston Rockets basketball team, tweeted his support for the anti-Beijing protesters in Hong Kong. The Chinese Basketball Association immediately cut ties with the Rockets, prompting Morey to issue an apology.