Word of the Week: Surround and Watch

Word of the Week: Surround and Watch

Editor’s Note: The Word of the Week comes from China Digital Space’s Grass-Mud Horse Lexicon, a glossary of terms created by Chinese netizens and frequently 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. 

If you are interested in participating in this project by submitting and/or translating terms, please contact the CDT editors at CDT [at] chinadigitaltimes [dot] net.

“People are cruelly and inhumanely surrounding and watching the 楼主 lóuzhǔ.”

围观 (wéiguān): surround and watch

When someone has done or said something unusual, netizens (and sometimes people in real life) call for a crowd to come “surround and watch.”

Examples of surrounding and watching:

  • On the comment page of a microblog, someone might write “surround and watch the 楼主 lóuzhǔ,” the person who started the thread.
  • In a news article someone might write about hundreds who “surrounded and watched” a street fight.

“Surround and watch” also implies that an occurrence is receiving public scrutiny. The 2010 Southern Weekend article “Scrutiny is Power: How ‘Surrounding and Watching’ Has Changed China” (关注就是力量–围观改变中国) popularized this sense of the term. Columnist Laughing Silkworm writes, “What’s important was that public scrutiny was effective. They could no longer view it as being immaterial—they had to respond to the public scrutiny” (重要的是,围观起作用了,他们不能再视围观为无物,他们必须回应围观).

Open popup

Welcome back!

CDT is a non-profit media site, and we need your support. Your contribution will help us provide more translations, breaking news, and other content you love.