Word of the Week: Tomato

Tomato

(second from right) at a red song performance in in March 2011. Former Politburo Standing Committee member He Guoqiang stands to his left. (Wan Nan/Chongqing Daily)

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  and political correctness.

西红柿 (xīhóngshì): tomato

Sounds the same as “western red city” (西红市 xī hóng shì). During his tenure as Chongqing Party Secretary, Bo Xilai created an ambitious program to encourage residents to sing “.” Bo’s charisma and embrace of the Mao-era culture captivated China and the world. Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger visited the “western red city” in the summer of 2011 and watched a mass performance of red songs—just months before the murder of British businessmanNeil Heywood which would strike down Bo’s star.

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