Superstar German DJ ‘permanently banned’ from China for liking a ‘South Park’ tweet


Zedd performs onstage during the 2019 iHeartRadio Wango Tango at Dignity Health Sports Park on June 01, 2019 in Carson, California.

Kevin Winter | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

Zedd, a high-profile DJ and music producer, has been permanently banned from China for liking a tweet from “South Park’s” official account.

On Friday, Zedd tweeted about the ban, and CNBC verified the claim with his publicist on Saturday.

“This is true, yes, but we don’t have anymore info to give you at this time,” Adam Guest, senior entertainment publicist at U.K.-based SATELLITE414 agency, told CNBC. It’s unclear at the moment whether this means that Zedd has a travel ban to China. As of Saturday, his music was still available on Chinese music streaming site QQ Music.

“South Park” stirred up controversy in the world’s second-largest economy with an episode called “Band in China” which pokes fun at the country’s strict censorship regime and ridicules American firms doing business there.

Beijing responded by heavily censoring content related to “South Park” on search engines like Baidu and other online services.

The tweet that Zedd liked on Twitter was one celebrating “South Park’s” 300th episode.

The 300th episode is called “Shots!!!” and looks to ridicule anti-vaccination supporters, or anti-vaxxers, as well as continuing its satirical take on China.

Zedd was born in Russia but grew up in Germany. The German embassy in Beijing is yet to respond to a request for comment when contacted by CNBC.

His ban comes at a time when American organizations’ dealings with China are under heavy scrutiny with several being accused of bending over backwards to meet Beijing’s demands around censorship.

It began when Daryl Morey, the general manager of the Houston Rockets NBA team, tweeted a message in support of the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. The post was quickly deleted. The NBA first appeared to apologize for Morey’s remarks which was criticized by American lawmakers. But later, the league’s commissioner Adam Silver came out in support of Morey’s right to express his opinion. Silver’s remarks drew strong criticism from Chinese state media.

Meanwhile, Apple was in hot water with Beijing for allowing an app, which let Hong Kong protesters see the location of police, onto its App Store. Following criticism from Chinese state media, Apple took the app down.

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