CDT Editor’s Note: As we go into 2022, CDT has actually assembled an unique series of includes for our readers, providing an appearance back at individuals, occasions, debates, memes and sensitive words that specified the previous year. Some of this material is drawn from the CDT Chinese group’s year-end series, with extra material included by the CDT English group. We hope that CDT readers will enjoy this appearance back at the hectic, complicated and remarkable year that was 2021.
We began with the CDT editors’ choices for preferred CDT posts and composing on China in 2021, CDT English top 10 most-read posts of 2021, the Chinese web’s top 10 memes of 2021, and an appearance back at some of the civil society groups, blog writers, and media outlets that bid farewell in 2021. The following is a translation and contextualization of CDT Chinese’s Top 10 Censored Words of 2021.
1. Sprinkle Pepper 撒胡椒面
Related censored terms: indiscriminately + spraying pepper
February 25 was Xi Jinping’s special day to commemorate China’s accomplishment over hardship. But as he read out his florid triumph speech, he flubbed one of his lines. Describing the federal government’s hardship reduction work, he checked out that “we stress fact-based guidance and strict rules, not flowery fists and fancy footwork, red tape and excessive formality, and performative going-through-the-motions, and we resolutely oppose indiscriminately …
Censors instantly intended to silence conversation of the pepper-sprinkling spoken mistake. The word “pepper” was totally censored on Weibo for 8 days after the speech, and look for video of the speech returned no outcomes. The word stays sensitive today: publishing “sprinkle pepper” on Weibo can lead to removal of the angering account. Former U.S. Vice President Dan Quayle when improperly advised a primary school trainee to spell “potato” with an added “e,” generating extensive mockery throughout the United States, however no censorship.
2. Nomadland 无依之地
Related censored terms: Nomadland + release date/cancelled release, Nomadland / Chloe Zhao + embarrass China, Nomadland + block, cancel + Oscar , 93rd + Oscar Awards, Oscar + live stream + cancel, Chloe Zhao + Oscar, Nomadland + Oscar, Oscar for Best Director
When Chloé Zhao won Best Director at the 2021 Academy Awards for her movie “Nomadland,” no one in China, the nation of her birth, was seeing—a minimum of not by means of formally approved media. Coverage of her historical accomplishment was blacked out after nationalist analysts collected a 2013 interview in which Zhao stated China was a location “where there are lies everywhere.” Her name—in addition to the terms “Nomadland,” “Oscar,” and “Best Director”—were all censored. Millions still discovered a method to view and talk about through the adoption of code words like “Settled Sky,” an inversion of the movie’s Chinese title.
Zhao’s other movies likewise appear to be prohibited in China. A Marvel movie she directed, “Eternals,” never ever aired in China, although other possible consider that choice consist of state-approved homophobia—the movie reveals a kiss in between a male superhero and his hubby. Other Hollywood personages with household ties to China have actually gone through comparable political examination. An repetition of the Zhao debate swallowed up Canadian star Simu Liu after nationalists published screenshots of an interview in which he remembered that his moms and dads’ memories of maturing in China consisted of “stories of people dying from starvation.”
3. Support Xinjiang People支持新疆人
Related censored terms: assistance + Xinjiang People, Support + Uyghurs, assistance + “Uy” individuals
In March, the Communist Youth League set Weibo afire when it implicated Swedish fast-fashion brand name H&M of lying about labor abuses in Xinjiang’s cotton market, and actively urged Chinese people to boycott H&M items. Amidst the noise and fury of nationalist assistance for Xinjiang cotton, some Chinese people spoke up in assistance of individuals of Xinjiang: “Don’t just support Xinjiang cotton, support Xinjiang people! Support allowing them to stay in hotels, support them traveling abroad, support them finding work, support them walking down the street without having their phones & IDs checked.” Those posts were rapidly censored. But as the federal government fanned the flames of the boycotts, lots of netizens started to ask, “What is really going on in Xinjiang?”
The censored Weibo posts are an indicator that global condemnation of China’s human rights offenses in Xinjiang might be capable of affecting Chinese popular opinion, in spite of the Chinese federal government’s assertions to the contrary. In the meantime, nationalistic boycotts over Xinjiang continue. The most current targets are Intel and Walmart.
4. Accelerationism 加速主义
Related censored terms: China + accelerationism, Accelerator-in-Chief (总加速师)
From China Digital Space:
The principle that Xi Jinping is quickening the death of the Chinese Communist Party by doubling down on his authoritarian guideline, frequently referenced by the mock-title Accelerator-in-Chief. In its initial sense, accelerationism holds that reinforcing the development of the “techno-capitalist” state, not resistance to it, will bring sweeping social modification. While [the term] jiasuzhuyi is utilized satirically, in the West this fringe political theory has actually ended up being carefully connected to white supremacist groups, which hold that violence and discord will fall the existing political order and lead the way for their vision of the future. [Source]
There was a short minute on Baidu when look for “Accelerator-in-Chief” returned outcomes for Xi Jinping, however that is no longer the case. Bot accounts, the well known “internet water army,” have actually flooded Twitter with Chinese-language posts linking accelerationism to America. These patently inorganic posts appear created to muffle criticism of Xi in Chinese-language areas on the worldwide web:
5. Guonan 蝈蝻
Related censored terms: married ass, little penis, little dock
Guonan, a homophone for “national male” formed from characters that share an extreme with maggot and cockroach, is a bad term for Chinese guys. The term is utilized by some extreme feminists to slam what they view as prevalent chauvinism in Chinese society. A comparable term exists for females in standard heterosexual marital relationships: “married asses.” Censorship of guonan and associated terms increased after Xinhua’s May 31 statement, “The Three-Child Policy Is Here,” which raised worries of another round of intrusive federal government participation in females’s reproductive options. The censorship of guonan appears moderate in contrast to the mass shuttering of feminist groups and the arrest of #MeToo reporters. Even less overtly political expressions of feminism can be premises for main censure. When the comic Yang Li presented the concern, “How can he look so average and still have so much confidence?” she was implicated of prompting “gender opposition”—which Weibo now utilizes as premises for censorship. CDT was likewise implicated of this by Global Times in December.
6. Liedownism 躺平学
Related censored terms: involution, Luo Huazhong
Lying down is “not acceptable,” according to state media. In an effort to get away the viewed “involution” of Chinese society, Chinese youth are “lying down”—much to the shame of the Chinese federal government. The Cyberspace Administration of China mandated that items branded with “lie down, liedownism, involution” and so on be eliminated from e-commerce websites. Yet the art of “liedownism” slumps over on: an image of the star Ge You reclining on a couch has actually ended up being a popular meme, even making the list of CDT Chinese’s Top Ten Memes of 2021.
7. Zhang Xianzhong 张献忠
Related censored terms: Zhang Xianzhong, Xianzhongology, Xianzhong essence, Xianzhong, Xianzhong occurrence, Xianzhong habits, all over Xianzhong, no various from Xianzhong
A 17th-century rebel well-known for massacre so indiscriminate that he left Sichuan depopulated centuries later on is possibly a not likely prospect for a meme—however, Zhang Xianzhong has actually turned into one online. His name has actually ended up being a stand-in for 2 unassociated subjects: the mass deaths that followed Mao’s Great Leap Forward and other fanatical Communist policies; and those who “take revenge against society” by following Zhang’s (most likely apocryphal) injunction to “Kill. Kill. Kill. Kill. Kill. Kill. Kill.” In a popular current case, an impoverished male in rural Fujian killed his rich next-door neighbors, with whom he had a long-running residential or commercial property conflict, and after that ran away into the mountains. Despite his grisly criminal offense, his predicament amassed extensive compassion, and a couple of even revealed adoration: “If the dead and injured were from the village tyrant’s family, then I’d admire this Ou guy for being a real man.” The now-suspended WeChat account @过桥土豆 looked for to describe the mindset underpinning the Chinese web’s adoption of Zhang Xianzhong as an anti-hero: “The bottom rung of society is like a stagnant pond that grows more suffocating by the day. People are on their last nerve, and they’re feeling desperate. That’s why they want someone—anyone, for whatever reason—to show up and destroy the social order, to smash everything, and to hell with the consequences, so that they can vent their outrage.”
8. Zhao Wei 赵薇
Related censored terms: evil-doing artist, Henry Huo, Kris Wu, Zheng Shuang, Fan Bingbing
A “profound transformation” is underway in China’s show business. The federal government has actually punished both celeb habits and fandoms. Zhao Wei was eliminated from the web for factors that stay uncertain—possibly due to her connection with previous Alibaba CEO Jack Ma. CDT Chinese produced a chart of the most sensitive stars and the level to which they are censored throughout China’s biggest video platforms: red=overall censorship, yellow=targeted censorship, green=uncensored.
The top row lists artists (from delegated right) and their reported offenses: Zhao Wei (offense unknown), Henry Hou (serial cheater), Kris Wu (rape), Zheng Shuang (surrogacy and tax evasion), Fan Bingbing (tax evasion). The left column list the numerous platforms (from top to bottom): iQIYI, Youku, Tencent Video, Mango TELEVISION, Migu Video, Bilibili, Douban
9. Fragile 玻璃心
Related censored terms: Wee Meng Chee, Kimberley Chen + Fragile, Fragile + embarrass China
It is easy to comprehend why “Fragile,” by Namewee (Wee Meng Chee) and Kimberly Chen, was prohibited in China. The lyrics mock Xi Jinping, little pinks and their love of stating “your mom is dead (NMSL), the ban on Taiwanese pineapples, and all the rest. The song is so sensitive that even criticizing it brings on censorship:
Even this Weibo post calling Namewee a bastard is censored
Namewee, meanwhile, has reportedly struck it rich by selling non-fungible tokens (NFTs) tied to the song.
10. Peng Shuai 彭帅
Related censored terms: Peng Shuai, ps, Eddie Peng + Shuai, Pu Shu, Vice Premier Peng, Peng Dehuai, Zhang Gaoli, Usury Zhang, Gaoli, zgl, Zhuge Liang, Kang Jie, State Council vice premier, melon, eat melon, big melon, jumbo melon, tennis, “The Prime Minister and I”, Diamond Cup, Yibin Guesthouse, Women’s Tennis Association, WTA, tennis association + leave/stop/suspend, Women’s Tableless Ping Pong Association, Steve Simon
On November 2, in a Weibo post on her individual account, Peng Shuai implicated previous Standing Politburo Committee member Zhang Gaoli of sexual attack. Before an hour had actually passed, her allegation was erased. A scorched-earth project of censorship followed. Peng herself likewise vanished from public view, triggering a global protest that ultimately caused her “forced reappearance.” The fallout influenced the Women’s Tennis Association (or the “Women’s Tableless Ping Pong Association,” as one censorship-dodging Weibo user called the WTA) to suspend all future competitions in China. The breadth and strength of the censorship of Peng’s allegation is unequaled by any other occasion this year.