Nickname for Zhou Yongkang, former public security chief and close ally of fallen Chongqing party secretary Bo Xilai. Reports that Zhou is the subject of a massive government corruption probe emerged in August 2013, but the investigation was not officially announced until July 29, 2014. Netizens refer to the retired Politburo Standing Committee member as “Master Kang” in the midst of censorship directives forbidding such discussion.
The name “Master Kang” is simultaneously a historical, political, and pop cultural reference. Kang Shifu (康师傅 Kāng Shīfu) is the brand name used by packaged food company Tingyi (Cayman Islands) Holding Corporation, the largest instant noodle producer operating in mainland China. When “Master Kang” is blocked from Weibo search results, netizens resort to calling Zhou “instant noodles” (方便面 fāngbiànmiàn). Tingyi markets their products under the English name Master Kong.
Master Kang also alludes to Kang Sheng (康生), Zhou’s early predecessor as security chief. A first generation official and close ally to Mao Zedong, Kang was posthumously disgraced and expelled from the Party for his role in the Cultural Revolution and his early criticism of Deng Xiaoping.
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.