Minitrue: Filter Keywords on “Xi Jinping Beetle”

The following  instructions, issued to the media by government authorities, have been leaked and distributed online. 

Twitter user @beidaijin shared the following propaganda directive, also posted to CDT Chinese:

Set up keyword filtering on Weibo, blogs, public accounts [on WeChat, etc.], forums, electronic message boards, and other interactive platforms, to find and delete the following words and combinations: “Xi beetle,” “Xi dung beetle,”  “Xi clan beetle,” “Daddy Xi beetle,” “Xi tiger.” Implement coordinated keyword filters for both simplified and traditional characters. (July 12, 2016) [Chinese]

Czech-based Chinese scientist Wang Chengbin recently published an article in the taxonomy journal Zootaxa on a new species of beetle that he discovered, which he named Rhyzodiastes (Temoana) xii. The roman numerals at the end of the scientific name, Wang explained, were in reference to President ’s surname. “This specific epithet is dedicated to Dr. Xi Jinping,” wrote the scientist, “The President of the People’s Republic of China, for his leadership making our motherland stronger and stronger.”  Earlier this week, a central propaganda directive ordered the deletion of a news article on the newly discovered beetle species which used Xi’s nickname “Daddy Xi,” a moniker that authorities have recently attempted to downplay. Following the initial censorship directive, The New York Times’ Did Kirsten Tatlow spoke to Wang Chengbin about the name he chose for his discovery:

Yet more important to Cheng-Bin Wang, the Prague-based Chinese entomologist who discovered and named it, the Rhyzodiastes (Temoana) xii eats rotten wood. That makes it a fitting symbol for Mr. Xi, whose campaign against official corruption is as important for China as the beetle’s diet is for the health of its environment, Mr. Wang said in a telephone interview.

“President Xi is the same. He is fighting corruption. That is so important,” said Mr. Wang, 32, who added that his discovery last year excited him so much he could not sleep at night. He not only named it for Mr. Xi but added the word “wolf” in Chinese, for good measure: 习氏狼条脊甲 — literally, “Xi Surnamed Wolf Spine Carapace.” (The last words indicate a beetle, which has a hard carapace, unlike the cockroach.)

[…] In an email before the interview, Mr. Wang expressed concern that foreign news reports had portrayed him as “belittling” Mr. Xi by comparing him to a small insect. (The beetle is 0.3 inches long. Mr. Xi is 5-foot-11.)

“They know nothing about entomology or taxonomy,” he wrote, and “have no idea about the meaning of a biological name!”

[…] Mr. Xi’s name is presented respectfully, he said: “xii,” or “xi” for Mr. Xi, adding the Latin “i,” to show a male possessive. [Source]

More from Wang, via the AFP:

“The Rhyzodiastes (Temoana) is very rare – you might not encounter a single one even after 10 field collection sessions – and it also eats rotten wood for food,” he said in an email.

“So it’s a metaphor for Xi Jinping, a rare person you only encounter once a century, and specifically his controls on corruption (eating rot), which will allow Chinese corruption to gradually disappear,” he explained.

But Chinese censors have ordered that all references to Wang’s bug be removed from the internet, the China Digital Times said.

[…] Wang was distraught at the censorship, saying: “Hello! Beloved President Xi! This is a rare beetle! The name of the species will exist for ever! A tremendous honour!”

His gesture had been “deliberately vilified”, he said. [Source]

Strangely, Xinhua tweeted a link to the AFP report at The Guardian. The tweet has since been deleted: