White House responds to China 'joke'

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Shanghai Daily, January 12, 2014
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The White House has weighed in on a petition calling for the government to crack down on "Jimmy Kimmel Live," a television talk show that sparked a furor in China in October with a "joke" about killing Chinese people to avoid paying down US debt to the country.

More than 105,000 people signed a White House petition calling for an apology after the show, broadcast on ABC, included a segment where Kimmel asked a group of children how the United States should pay back the US$1.3 trillion it owes to China, the world's second-largest economy.

A six-year-old said, "Kill everyone in China." Kimmel replied: "That's an interesting idea."

Chinese-American groups protested outside the California headquarters of ABC and the Chinese Foreign Ministry complained. ABC and Kimmel apologized for the segment.

The White House noted that ABC and Kimmel have "already apologized independently" and said the comments "do not reflect mainstream views of China in the United States."

"As the president has stated publicly, the United States welcomes the continuing peaceful rise of China," it said.

But the White House also noted that the US Constitution protects free speech and that the federal government cannot force ABC to "cut the show" as the petition requested.

"It may be upsetting when people say things we might personally disagree with, but the principle of protected free speech is an important part of who we are as a nation," the White House said.


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