2012: A Grass-Mud Horse Year in Review

From Bo Xilai’s dramatic fall from power, to Chen Guangcheng’s daring escape to the U.S. Embassy, to numerous sordid sex scandals, 2012 has been an incredibly eventful year in China. China’s 500 million netizens have provided a running commentary on these and other events using memes, veiled references, and wordplays. Take this quiz to see how much you know about China’s current events and the language used to discuss them.

Take a guess, then scroll down to reveal the answer and the next question.

1. How did Bo Xilai, the party chief of Chongqing, reportedly react when his police chief, Wang Lijun, told him that his wife was suspected of arranging the murder of a British expatriate?

a. Berated his police chief loudly and threatened to have him arrested.
b. Slapped his police chief.
c. Chuckled and said, “You think that’s the worst thing she’s done?”
d. Tried to make his police chief an offer he couldn’t refuse.











Answer: (b). See slap on the face.

2. After Wang Lijun confronted Bo Xilai and fled to the U.S. consulate in Chengdu, what did the Chongqing information office give as the pretext for Wang’s sudden disappearance?

a. He was recovering from a half-hearted suicide attempt.
b. He had gone into early retirement to devote himself to the works of Chairman Mao.
c. He was recovering from a slap on the face.
d. He was undergoing vacation-style therapy.











Answer: (d). See vacation-style therapyIf you chose (a), you were probably thinking of Xie Yexin.

3. Leung Chun-ying, the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, is rumored to be a closeted:

a. Communist party member
b. member of the Triads
c. Taylor Swift fan
d. practitioner of Falun Gong











Answer: (a). See Secretary Leung.

4. Aspiring actress and model Zhou Rui sparked widespread Internet speculation when she suggested online that she was carrying on a relationship with a member of the National People’s Congress. Zhou Rui had already caused a sensation online for wearing which item of clothing?

a. a sexy police uniform
b. an American flag bikini
c. an “ass-high miniskirt”
d. a rubber Chairman Mao costume











Answer: (c). See ass-high miniskirtIf you chose (a), you may be thinking of Wang Xiaomeng, a model who was jailed for impersonating a police officer.

5. Which of the following is not true in relation to blind activist Chen Guangcheng?

a. Christian Bale, the actor who played Batman, starred in a film eagerly promoted by the Chinese government. While in China attending the film’s premiere, he attempted to visit Chen Guangcheng and was roughed up by Chinese guards.
b. Chen Guangcheng was named “GQ Rebel of the Year.”
c. Chen Guangcheng, though completely blind, outmaneuvered more than 100 guards, scaled walls, broke his foot in three places, fell down more than 200 times, traveled without food or water for more than 17 hours and hid in pig pens and fields before being picked up by a woman who would later, while under arrest, watch The Shawshank Redemption with security officers.
d. All of the above are true.











Answer: (d). See guard in military coat and Escape to Victory

6. China finally has a Nobel laureate they are happy about! How does Mo Yan plan to spend the $1.2 million in prize money?

a. Create a foundation for China’s budding writers.
b. Get a mistress, purchase an expensive watch, and become a chain smoker as part of his research for a new novel about Chinese government officials.
c. Buy an apartment in Beijing, while acknowledging he probably can’t get anything bigger than 120 square meters (1,300 square feet).
d. Use the money to write a screenplay about Mao Zedong returning to the China of today. Mo Yan—who has a striking resemblance to Mao—hopes to play the leading role.











Answer: (c). See Nobel Prize dollars.

7. When a police officer shot an unarmed villager during a conflict over the forced demolition of his home, what explanation did the police officer give for his actions?

a. Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun!
b. Without forced demolitions there can be no new China!
c. I fired in self-defense.
d. I fired subconsciously.











Answer: (d). See subconsciously firedIf you chose (b), you are not too far off. See without forced demolitions there can be no new China.

8. Which item of technology was made available in 2012 to the Communist Party faithful?

a. The “Red Pad,” a cross between an iPad and Mao’s Little Red Book.
b. FilterPlus, a web browser add-on available for purchase that restricts any “unhealthy” content that may have slipped past the Internet censors.
c. FantasyPolitburo, a website based on fantasy baseball where participants can manage an imaginary slate of candidates for the Standing Committee of the Politburo and gain points depending on how many of their candidates make it onto the Committee.
d. Dangyuanwang, a dating and social networking website restricted to Party members.











Answer: (a). See red pad.

9. The Associated Press described Lei Zhengfu as being “jowly and pop-eyed.” The New York Times called him “bulbous-faced.” Not to be outdone, The New Yorker noted his “astonishing ranine qualities.” Mr. Lei was implicated in which of the following actual sex scandals that occurred in China during 2012?

a. He was a government official in Shanxi who was arrested after officials discovered that he had four wives and ten children.
b. He was the head of the Public Security Bureau in a city in Xinjiang who provided two sisters with jobs and an expensive apartment.
c. He was a district party secretary in Chongqing filmed by a prostitute who was hired by a real-estate developer hoping to use the footage as leverage.
d. He was involved in a group orgy that produced a famously awkward group photo.











Answer: (c). See Lei ZhengfuIf you chose (a), you were thinking of Li Junwen. If you chose (b), you were thinking of Qi Fang. If you chose (d), you may have been thinking of this incident in Lujiang.

10. When a newly completed section of bridge collapsed in Harbin, government officials claimed:

a. The bridge “slipped.”
b. The bridge collapsed due to overloaded vehicles.
c. The collapse was actually a government-sponsored test of emergency response systems.
d. (a) and (b).











Answer: (d). See slipped.
11. Which headline did not appear in the Chinese press in 2012?
a. “China Must Permit Some Corruption, the Public Should Understand”
b. “Billionaire Suspected of Dying From Poisoned Cat Meat”
c. “Hainan Airlines Chooses Pilots by Smelling Candidates’ Armpits; Those with B.O. Immediately Eliminated”
d. “Police Officers in Nanjing Perform Elaborate Gangnam Style Parody” 






Answer: (d). See moderate level of corruptionIf you answered (b), here is an English version of the report. If you answered (c), see here.

12. When residents of a district in Shanxi complained that a district official had four wives and ten children, they were told by the Bureau of Letters and Visits that:
a. If someone was able to have four wives and ten children it must be because that’s his talent.
b. They did not understand the actual situation and were misled by those who had ulterior motives.
c. In accordance with relevant laws, exceptions to the one-child policy are made from time to time.
d. The Bureau would investigate the situation in a timely manner.











Answer: (a). See It’s because he’s gifted.

13. When asked by a reporter what he thought about rising oil prices, the following reply became an instant Internet meme:

a. Screw you!
b. Can I swear? If not, I have nothing to say.
c. I was just getting soy sauce.
d. Rising prices are simply a sign that China is getting stronger.











Answer: (b). See Can I swear? If you chose (c), you were probably thinking of this classic Internet meme.

14. In 2012, if you were talking about Sparta online, you would most likely be referring to:

a. an online game combining elements of the movie 300 with World of Warcraft
b. the 18th National People’s Congress
c. a technique to scale the great firewall of China
d. Beijing











Answer: (b). See Sparta.

Visit the Grass-Mud Horse Lexicon to learn more netizen-speak.


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