China Digital Space

Fifty cents

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五毛 (wǔ máo): fifty cents

New character comprised of the two characters for “fifty” and “cents,” pronounced wao.
Netizens first coined the term “Fifty Cent Party” to refer to undercover Internet commentators paid by the government to sway public opinion (“fifty cents” is a reference to the alleged pay received per post). Now a “fifty-center” is anyone who actively and publicly posts opinions online that defend or support government policy. The Fifty Cent Party has become the object of much scorn. Netizens have written comics about and “training manuals” for fifty-centers.

The activist and artist Ai Weiwei conducted a lengthy interview with a self-described fifty-center which circulated during his 2011 detention.

Wu Hao, former deputy director of the Yunnan Province Propaganda Department, is showered with fifty-cent bills during a speech.
Grass-mud horse on the “fifty-cent bill.”
“Love to hide, do not love the truth / Love to be first, love to stand out / Love to guide public opinion, and love even more to pretend to be a netizen / My ten fingers are black / I do not have eyes / Who am I? / You cannot see me. / I am an Internet commentator / I am Fifty Cents.”

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