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Hong Kong satire forced off air as China clamps down on free speech

'Headliner' poked fun at authorities for 30 years until police force objected

Ng Chi-sum, left, and Tsang Chi-ho play the Dowager Empress and her palace eunuch in a segment of "Headliner," a popular satirical show that has been suspended by the authorities. (Courtesy of RTHK)

HONG KONG -- It was not the first time "Headliner," a popular political satirical show in Hong Kong on the RTHK public broadcasting channel, had pushed the boundaries of taste and political speech.

In one of its first episodes in 1989, the hosts bitterly lampooned the country's leaders for their actions in the recent Tiananmen Square massacre. "Chinese Premier Li Peng said the troops fired on June 4 because the military did not have enough rubber bullets and tear gas." Why is China out of rubber, asked the other host. Because it had all been used up in rubber stamps, said the first -- a jab at China's government unimaginable today.

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