China has banned puns.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. If a country thinks they can police humor then that’s a big red flag, right? You’re totally correct.
The official statement from the Chinese government is “Radio and television authorities at all levels must tighten up their regulations and crack down on the irregular and inaccurate use of the Chinese language, especially the misuse of idioms.”
Essentially, China has banned wordplay in media due to the fact that such impurities in the language might confuse people. Wordplay is a huge part of Chinese life already: Chinese democratic activists have a mascot called the Grass Mud Horse that, when spoken aloud in Mandarin (“cào nǐ mā,” or 肏你妈) sounds a lot like the Mandarin phrase for doing something intimate and unrepeatable to someone’s mother.
You can’t bend language once people already have a hold of it. Just because you can tune a piano, it doesn’t mean you can’t tuna fish. The Chinese government have gone out of their way for a millennia to convince the Chinese people that communism is A-OK and that following orders is the right thing to do, yet they can’t see that their tactics of policing the people — let alone policing their language — just isn’t working.
Policing language is something straight out of a Hitler-esque playbook. How could they Nazi that coming? A future where the government controls what you say? Sounds a bit 1984 to us. (George) Orwell’s that ends well, I guess.