Sensitive Words: Photoshop Strikes Again

Sensitive Words: Photoshop Strikes Again

Pictionary Curse: Fish (鱼 yú) plus veggie chicken (素鸡 sùjī) plus 7-Up (七喜 Qīxǐ) may sound like it equals a delicious meal, but in Shanghai dialect, it spells “Go die, Secretary Yu.” This and many images like it have been pulled off the Internet.

As of December 25, the following search terms are blocked on Sina Weibo (not including the “search for user” function):

Studies in Leadership: Xinhua launched a profile series of China’s new central leadership this Sunday, showcasing the human side of incoming president Xi Jinping and Politburo Standing Committee (PSC) members Li Keqiang, Zhang Dejiang, and Yu Zhengsheng. Netizens are going after the egregious Photoshopping of Li Keqiang, glaring omissions from Yu Zhengsheng’s story, and an outlandish statement attributed to Zhang.

– Li Keqiang + PS (李克强+PS): “PS” can mean “Photoshop” or “to Photoshop.” A 2004 image of Li accompanying his profile is clearly Photoshopped.
– Xinhua + PS (新华社+PS)
– Yu Zhengsheng + older brother (俞正声+哥哥): Yu Qiangsheng’s defection to the United States in 1986 has become a hot topic following the release of the Yu Zhengsheng profile.
– Yu Zhengsheng + family (俞正声+家族)
– Veggie chicken (素鸡): “Fish Veggie Chicken” emerged as a nickname for Yu Zhengsheng during his tenure as Party secretary of Shanghai. The nickname alludes to “Secretary Yu” (俞书记) pronounced in a Shanghai accent. “Fish Veggie Chicken” was first blocked in early September, when word that Yu could be nominated to the PSC began to circulate.
– Zhang Dejiang + power car (张德江+动车): Power cars are used in high-speed trains. The Xinhua profile of Zhang states that after the July 2011 high-speed rail crash in Wenzhou, Zhang “gave a clear instruction that no one should bury the wreckage.”

Church of Almighty God: Authorities continue the crackdown on this cult, which saw a resurgence of activity around Mayan “Doomsday” predictions.
– Almighty God (全能神)
– Real God (实际神)
– Eastern Lightening (东方闪电)

– seven Standing Committee members (七常委)
– often atrophy (常萎 cháng wěi): Sounds the same as “Standing Committee members” (常委)
– long atophy (长萎): Same as above.
– elders (长老): Refers to the PSC.
River Elegy (河殇): The groundbreaking 1988 CCTV documentary about the decline of Chinese civilization.

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

You can see all of CDT’s collected sensitive words in this bilingual Google spreadsheet.


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