Chinese authorities have ordered a state broadcaster to punish a popular TV celebrity for insulting Communist Party founder Mao Zedong at a private dinner.
Bi Fujian was a talent show host on China Central Television (CCTV) when a video circulated in April showing him mocking Mao in comments interspersed in a song, Chinese state media reported. He publicly apologised and was suspended.
The China Discipline Inspection Daily, a newspaper under the party's anti-graft watchdog, said on Sunday that discipline inspectors at the broadcasting watchdog had found that Bi had violated "political discipline" in harming Mao's image.
The report said the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television had ordered CCTV to deal with the matter "severely" and to educate people within the broadcasting system.
In the video subsequently removed by censors, Bi sung a revolutionary song and added his own commentary about Mao between lines, using a vulgar Chinese insult that includes a reference to female genitals, and saying "he has ruined us all".
Even though some of Mao's policies have been officially critiqued, the ruling Communist Party can hardly renounce him because it has built much of its legitimacy upon the imagery surrounding the revolutionary leader.