South Park's Latest Shot at China Addresses the Hong Kong Protests

WARNING: The following contains major spoilers for South Park's 300th episode, "Shots!!!"

Randy Marsh and Towelie have become South Park's biggest bromance, with Season 23 depicting them as business partners in the marijuana industry. However, following the opening of Tegridy Farms outside of South Park -- a sort of portmanteau of ethics and integrity -- their relationship quickly soured, leading Towelie to leave their arrangement.

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He didn't like that Randy sold out to China, a country he opposes because of its censorship, and what he believes are its bad intentions in buying up businesses. Given that China holds Disney's moral compass on South Park, it's easy to understand why Towelie disapproves of Randy's decision; it's made even worse because China once arrested Randy for trying to expand his business there. However, when Randy finally comes to his senses and parts ways with the Chinese, he's encouraged by Towelie to take the series' biggest shot yet at the world power.

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After Randy keeps throwing 300k parades (celebrating $300,000 in profit from China, while playing up the show's 300th episode), his family and friends refuse to let him forget he only made that money by supporting a fascist government. Randy eventually has a heart-to-heart with Cartman's mother, and realizes this isn't how he wanted to build his dream. He needs his partner. Not his wife, Sharon, who's disillusioned with his business practices and his willingness to bend to Disney and China, but Towelie, who helped to create Tegridy.

Randy tries to win back the respect of his partner by visiting him while he's getting high. That's no shocker, because that is Towelie's long-established shtick. But before they reconcile, Towelie makes it clear Randy has to cut ties, by proclaiming, "Fuck the Chinese government!" And Randy does so twice. It's a monumental victory for the pot-smoking towel, with the big revelation coming when Randy admits that once he gives back the money, China will use it to frame protesting students in Hong Kong. It's the reason China also banned the episode, unsurprisingly.

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This is the show's foray into the current real-world issue where China is clamping down on Hong Kong's legal framework, sparking mass protests to erupt. Hong Kong is a sovereign state of China, and a recent murder case triggered the Hong Kong government to propose an extradition bill that would have allowed the city to extradite suspects to any territory, including mainland China. The now-scrapped bill was met with anger, and led to months of protests as part of a wider movement calling for more autonomy from Beijing. It's escalated to the point that China lashes out at anyone who criticizes its actions.

Even the NBA got into the nation's cross hairs when Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey had to recant his support for Hong Kong, only for China to ask for him to be fired. That further fueled theoutcry against brands that people see as pandering to China. Of course, South Park has been on the ball, with the show's creators making it clear what they think of China, especially through a fake apology. It's controversial, but South Park already depicted the Chinese trying to buy Star Wars to keep it from Disney, so Matt Stone and Trey Parker, as seen in several other episodes, have no qualms about depicting the world power as a country ready to manipulate companies and events for their own benefit.

Starring Trey Parker and Matt Stone, South Park Season 23 airs Wednesdays at 10 pm ET/PT on Comedy Central.

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