Phrase of the Week: Smog the People
The Word of the Week comes from the Grass-Mud Horse Lexicon, a glossary of terms created by Chinese netizens and encountered in online political discussions. These are the words of China’s online “resistance discourse,” used to mock and subvert the official language around censorship and political correctness.
wèi rénmín fú wù 喂人民服雾
While “smog the people” has been in use for several years, the phrase gained currency in October 2013, when smog stopped traffic and hindered tennis matches in Beijing and brought an “airpocalypse” to Harbin.
Around New Year’s 2014, many Weibo users called “smog the people” the biggest “watchword” of 2013.
In December 2016, the phrase was used widely on Weibo by netizens commenting on dense smog in and around Chengdu, Sichuan, where authorities had cracked down on anti-pollution protests and on the Beijing region where a “red alert” smog warning was issued for the first time in 2016. Beijing municipal authorities in November had announced controversial plans to list smog on a list of weather calamities, so some in the capital city may have used the phrase to imply that it is a result of development-driven government policies rather than a mere “meteorological disaster.” Netizens from across China also used the phrase to accompany cell phone pictures of their smoggy surroundings.
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