Phrase of the Week: Thanks to the Country

The  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.

“Write ‘Thanks to the leaders’ 10,000 times... no, ’Thanks to the country!!’”

“Write ‘Thanks to the leaders’ 10,000 times… no, ’Thanks to the country!!’”

感谢国家 (gǎnxiè guójiā): thanks to the country

After Chinese speed skater Zhou Yang won the 1,500 meter event in the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games, she thanked her parents in a press conference. Yu Zaiqing, Deputy Director of the National Sports Bureau, criticized her for not first thanking her country. Heeding his advice, Zhou held a second news conference during which she first thanked her country, then her parents and coaches.

In Chinese Internet usage, “thanks to the country” is an ironic or sarcastic phrase implying that the thanks was either forced or not merited. It can be used after mentioning an action taken by the state with only minor benefits and substantial costs: “The world should really thank the country for spending US$60 billion on such a great World Expo,” or “Kim Jong-il should really thank the country for showing him such a good time while he’s in China.” It can also be used when the government takes small measures to address a problem that it caused in the first place: “I have to thank my country for ending the Cultural Revolution.”

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