The Word of the Week 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.
“Yaxshi” (ياخشى) means “good” in the Uyghur language and is transliterated into Mandarin 亚克西 yǎkèxī. The Uyghurs are a majority Muslim Turkic people and the titular nationality of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in China’s far west.
The yax lizard rose to fame in the CCTV 2010 Spring Festival Gala, “The Party’s Policies are Yaxshi,” featured dancers adorned in traditional Uyghur dress praising the Communist Party, a great irony in light of the inter-ethnic riots in Xinjiang the summer before. Han Chinese migrants to Xinjiang are often better able to find work and prosper in the region, leading to tension and sometimes violence.
Before it rose to stardom, the yax lizard appeared earlier in other propaganda, such as this music video, where even “Xinjiang’s oil is yaxshi!”