‘SNL’ Tiptoes Around Uyghur Genocide, Jokes About China Taunting World Before Olympics


NBC’s late-night comedy show Saturday Night Live poked a bit of fun at the coming Beijing Olympics this week, but the “Weekend Update” segment but didn’t have the spine to go all the way, offering only a tepid rebuke to China for its ongoing concentration camps and genocide against Uyghur Muslims.

On Saturday, cast member Bowen Yang performed his fifth outing as “Chinese trade minister and games organizer Chen Biao,” hitting the “Weekend Update” desk with host Michael Che for some jokes about the coming Winter Olympics in Beijing, China.

After a bit of banter, Che asked “Minister Biao” how he feels about NBC boycotting the games by not sending any correspondents to report live in Beijing. “Baio” joked that NBC is going to report on the games from studios in Connecticut. “You know what else shoots in Connecticut? Maury,” he replied deadpan.

“Good luck commentating over cries of: ‘You are NOT the father!'” he added.

After a few jokes about China’s plans to institute “COVID safety,” Che brought up the fact that many westerners are bringing burner phones to thwart China’s surveillance state.

“Minister Biao” asked if this is The Wire, adding, “Must be season two, because you’re white and no one cares.”

Finally, Che got to something a bit more serious, saying, “Well, the bigger story is that several countries, including the U.S., are planning diplomatic boycotts over China’s human rights violations.”

“Minister Biao” replied, saying, “Human rights? We don’t have that.”

That was the end of any serious pokes at the communist nation. Note that SNL did not have the courage to remark on the genocide China is perpetrating against its Uyghurs and other minority populations. There were no jokes about the forced labor camps where China manufactures much of the sportswear sold to westerners, and it didn’t bring up the oppression of Christians in China, nor the quashing of the democracy movements in Hong Kong or Tibet. Yang’s recurring character “Chen Biao” is fictional, failing to satirize any real-world Chinese officials.

In other words, nothing that could potentially threaten NBC’s gig providing sports commentary from Connecticut.

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