Word of the Week: Stable Bottom


The stable bottom of the government. (Thomas Y.C. Wong 鳩鵪亞黃)

稳腚 (wěn dìng): stable bottom

Homophone of “stability” (稳定 wěndìng). Beginning under former president Hu Jintao’s leadership, the Communist Party has gone to great lengths to “maintain stability” in society. Using this rationale, protests are squelched, political dissidents are controlled, and the media is censored.

Netizens joke that China’s leaders’ obsession with “social stability” is a just a pretext for insuring the stability of their “bottoms” on the thrones of power. “When the officials’ bottoms are stable,” goes a popular saying online, “society is unstable. When the officials’ bottoms are unstable, then society is stable” (官员稳腚了,社会就不稳定了;官员不稳腚了,社会就稳定了).

grass-mud horseThe  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.