Sensitive Words: The Tiananmen Edition (Update)

Sensitive Words: The Tiananmen Edition (Update)

Update: In addition to “today” (今天), “yesterday” (昨天) and “tomorrow” (明天) are also blocked and have been added to the list of “Other Related Terms.”

As of June 4, the following search terms are blocked on Weibo (not including the “search for user” function):

Individual Chinese characters:

  • fire (火): as in candle flame (烛火), torch (火炬), oil lamp (圣火)
  • candle (烛): as in [wax] candle (蜡烛), candlelight (烛光); Sina Weibo removed the candle emoticon over the weekend.
  • blood (血): as in bloody suppression (血腥镇压), bloody incident (流血事件)
  • people (民): as in People’s Liberation Army (人民解放军), democracy (民主)
  • movement (运): as in democracy movement (民运), student movement (学运)
  • move (动): as in student movement (如学生运动), memorial event (悼念活动), mobilize troops (出动军队)
  • government (政): as in Fang Zheng(方政), regimental commissar (团政委), one-party dictatorship (一党专政)
  • crush (碾): as in Fang Zheng‘s legs were crushed (方政被碾断双腿), crush and destroy (碾毁)
  • tǎn (坦): as in tank (坦克)
  • ceremony (祭): as in ceremony for Tiananmen victims (祭奠六四遇难者)

Numerals and Words Related to the Date of the Tiananmen Massacre:

  • 8, 8 (八), eight (捌), eight: All forms of “eight” and other forms of the numbers below.
  • 9, 9 (九), nine (玖), nine
  • 6, 6 (六), six (陆), six
  • 4, 4 (四), four (肆), four
  • 23, 23 (廿三), 23 (二十三): Today is the 23rd anniversary of the massacre.
  • 35, 35 (三十五): Netizens call today May 35th to get around the censors.

Other Related Terms:

  • anniversary (周年)
  • today (今天): searching for today’s date.
  • yesterday (昨天)
  • tomorrow (明天)
  • that year (那年): netizen code for 1989.
  • declaration (宣言): as in “Hunger Strike Declaration” (绝食宣言)
  • commemorate (纪念): commemorate 6.4 [as Tiananmen is frequently referred to] (纪念六四), Heroes Monument (英雄纪念碑), etc.
  • redress (平反): recall 6.4
  • Victoria Park (维园): An annual candlelight vigil is held in Hong Kong’s Victoria Park to remember the Tiananmen massacre.
  • park (公园)
  • recall (追思)
  • mourn (悼念): as in mourn 6.4
  • silent tribute (默哀)
  • evening event (晚会)
  • black clothes (黑衣): Netizens called for people to walk in the streets wearing black clothes to remember Tiananmen.
  • go into the street (上街)
  • never forget (勿忘): as in never forget 6.4 (勿忘六四), never forget the national calamity (勿忘国难)
  • never forget (毋忘): same as above
  • (Tian)anmen Mothers ((天)安门母亲)
  • Little Secretary (小秘书): as in the Sina Weibo “Little Secretary”
  • Twitter (推特): Chinese-language tweets tend to be democracy activists. During sensitive times, many share information about gatherings.
  • ism (主义): as in “overthrow socialism” (推翻社会主义)
  • autonomous (自治): as in “Peking University Student Government”(北大自治会)

Names of People Active in Tiananmen:

  • Bei Dao 北岛: On the eve of the Tiananmen Massacre, poet Bei Dao submitted a plea for political reform to the central government.
  • Yuan Mu (袁木):  Former State Council Information Office spokesman and apologist for the regime. In April 1989 he spoke with 45 students in 16 high schools.
  • Deng Liqun (邓力群): leftist influence within the Party
  • Chen Xitong (陈希同): then-mayor of Beijing. He recently said Tiananmen was an avoidable tragedy.
  • Yan Jiaqi (严家其):  sociology student who went into exile in the U.S
  • Han Dongfang (韩东方): Capital Autonomous Workers Federation leader during Tiananmen
  • Feng Congde (封从德): retested
  • Zhai Weimin (翟伟民): major player in the Capital Autonomous Federation of University Students
  • Chen Ziming (陈子明): currently a contributing writer to Deutsche Welle’s “China Observer” column


The four listed above were all ordered under arrest by the Ministry of Public Security.

Retested Names:

  • Wu’er Kaixi (吾尔开希)
  • Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波)
  • Chai Ling (柴玲)
  • Wang Dan (王丹)
  • Ding Zilin (丁子霖)
  • (Fang) Lizhi ((方)励之)
  • (Hu) Yaobang ((胡)耀邦)
  • (Zhao) Ziyang ((赵)紫阳)
  • (Jiang) Zemin ((江)泽民)
  • Qiao Shi (乔石)
  • Deng Xiaoping (邓小平)
  • Li Peng (李鹏)
  • Wei Jianxing (尉建行)

Retested Terms:

  • suppress (镇压)
  • assemble (集会): as in “memorial service for 6.4” (悼念六四集会)
  • revolt (造反)
  • massacre (屠杀): Tiananmen Massacre (天安门大屠杀)
  • open fire (开枪)
  • demonstrate (游行)
  • protest (抗议)
  • sit-in (静坐)
  • demonstrate (示威)
  • persecute (迫害)
  • student strike (罢课)
  • conflict (冲突)
  • take a walk (散步)
  • liu+si (6.4 in pinyin)
  • bajiu (89 in pinyin)
  • Chang’an Avenue (长安街)
  • square (广场)
  • square
  • Tianan(men) (天安(门))
  • Zhongnanhai (中南海)
  • member of standing committee (常委)
  • political bureau (政治局)
  • Gang of Four (四人帮)
  • sensitive (敏感)
  • turmoil (动乱)
  • democracy movement (民运(民主运动))
  • gunfire (枪声)
  • mothers of the motherland (祖国母亲)
  • Hunger Strike Declaration (绝食书)
  • non-violent non-cooperation (非暴力不合作)
  • student leader (学生领袖)
  • student federation (学联)
  • Independent Federation of Chinese Students and Scholars (学自联)
  • Capital Autonomous Workers Federation (工自联)
  • Capital Autonomous Federation of University Students (北高联)
  • Capital Autonomous Federation of University Students (高自联)
  • Operation Yellowbird (黄雀行动)
  • Chinese Spring (中国之春)
  • Independent Chinese PEN Center (独立中文笔会)

Overseas Media:

  • BBC
  • Voice of America (美国之音)
  • Radio Free Asia (自由亚洲)
  • Radio France Internationale (法广)
  • Boxun (博讯)
  • SeeChina (看中国)
  • Apollo (阿波罗)

Note: All Chinese-language words are tested using simplified characters. The same terms in traditional characters occasionally return different results. CDT Chinese runs a project that crowd-sources filtered keywords on Sina Weibo search.

CDT independently tests the keywords before posting them, but some searches later become accessible again. We welcome readers to contribute to this project so that we can include the most up-to-date information. To add words, check out the form at the bottom of CDT Chinese’s latest sensitive words post.


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