The Chinese government and some Chinese companies increased censorship in 2018 as the amount of technology available to the Chinese people grew, and some of the phrases that were banned in 2018 are surprising.
Even private chats on messaging app WeChat were censored as problematic phrases stopped users’ messages from sending, reported The Guardian. WeChat issued a statement vowing a “clean-up of politically harmful information” in November.
The censorship wasn’t only related to political content. Nearly 10,000 entertainment and celebrity news social media accounts were shut down in October, reported The Guardian.
Here are some of the phrases that were censored in 2018 and the meanings behind them:
The phrase “rice bunny” may seem meaningless, but its Chinese translation, “mi tu,” sounds a lot like #MeToo, the hashtag that women used to share their experiences of sexual assault or harassment. The phrase #MeToo was censored after a woman named Luo Xixi went public with misconduct accusations against a professor in January.
Now a #ricebunny discussion page on Chinese microblogging site Weibo has over 2.2 million views, according to Business Insider.
“Back up the car”
This transportation phrase was censored after critics said Chinese economist Wu Xiaoping’s proposal to eliminate China’s private sector was “driving history backwards,” reported The Guardian. This led to the synonymous expression “back up the car” being censored.
“Proclaiming oneself emperor”
Phrases like “proclaiming oneself emperor,” “immortality” and “I don’t agree” were blocked around the time Chinese president Xi Jinping achieved the ability to lead the country for the rest of his life through a constitutional amendment in March.
The phrase “Winnie the Pooh” had also been censored on and off because people have jokingly compared Xi’s appearance to the cartoon bear, something even American critics have seized on.
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