China Digital Space

River crab

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河蟹 (héxiè): river crab

River crab wearing three watches (带三个表 dài sān ge biǎo), alluding to Jiang Zemin’s Three Represents (三个代表 sān ge dàibiǎo). (source unknown)

Troublesome creature whose name echoes "harmony" (和谐 héxié); euphemism for censorship. Coined by netizens as a reference to the government's justification of censorship as an essential ingredient in constructing former president Hu Jintao's "harmonious society." In pre-Internet language, a crab is also a bully.

Both "harmony" and "river crab" can be used as verbs. Instead of saying something has been censored, you can say it has been "harmonized" (被和谐 bèi héxié) or "river-crabbed" (被河蟹了 bèi héxiè).

In Chinese Internet mythology, the river crab threatens the habitat of the grass-mud horse, also a symbol of online deviance. A popular cartoon illustrates this struggle.

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