Phrase of the Week: Pursue Across Provincial Lines

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.

跨省追捕 (kuā shěng zhuībǔ): pursue across provincial lines

“You’re not allowed to post things on the Internet that tarnish my reputation!” (isso.com.cn)

“You’re not allowed to post things on the Internet that tarnish my reputation!” (isso.com.cn)

The practice by local government agents of traveling to other provinces to arrest netizens for posting comments on the Internet.

In April 2009, netizen Wang Shuai was arrested in Shanghai for posting pictures that mocked the illegal seizure of land by officials in Lingbao, Henan Province. Wang’s post implied that local official took measures to ruin the land so that they could buy it at a lower price, since the required compensation is higher for cultivated land than for abandoned land.

Wang’s arrest led to a public outcry. The Henan provincial police chief eventually apologized to Wang, who was later compensated for his ordeal.

After this case and other incidents of cross-provincial arrests, the phrase “pursue across provincial lines” became a popular Internet meme. Many sensitive posts end half-jokingly, “Please don’t pursue me across provincial lines,” or, “I don’t really understand what I just wrote; I just copied it from someone else, so don’t pursue me across provincial lines.”

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