China Digital Space

Celestial Empire

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天朝 (Tiāncháo): Celestial Empire

Character combining “celestial” and “kingdom.”

Ancient name for China. Netizens use the term sarcastically to refer to China under the current government. It often suggests that China’s leaders are self-important, have a China-centric view of the world, and embody many of the imperial trappings communism was supposed to have thrown off.

“Celestial Empire” is also used in other sarcastic plays on words, such as “Celestial Empire goes into the pot” (天朝上锅 Tiāncháo shàng guō), which is a near-homonym for “Celestial Empire above all other nations.”

Probably because “Celestial Empire” is often used in criticism of the government or state of affairs in China, an alternate way of writing it has at times been blocked from Sina Weibo search results.

TG is sometimes used as an approximate abbreviation, but it actually stands for 土共 (Tǔgòng), another name for the Communist Party of China.

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