Word of the Week comes from the Grass-Mud Horse Lexicon, a glossary of terms created by Chinese netizens and 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.
On October 15, 2014, at the Beijing Forum on Art and Literature, Xi Jinping delivered a speech reaffirming the Communist Party’s long-held view of the social responsibility of the artist: promote Party ideology. As Xi was wrapping his speech up, he praised Zhou Xiaoping and Hua Qianfang, two young “Internet writers,” for their “positive energy,” called on them to continue writing, and directed the nation’s attention their way. Seemingly unbeknownst to Xi, Zhou Xiaoping had already achieved a level of Internet infamy for hisnationalistic and awkward prose and his tendency to misrepresent historical facts. In 2013, Zhou earned the nickname “Cutlassfish Zhou” (周带鱼 Zhōu Dàiyú) after fabricating a fact about the species.
Praising the controversial blogger served a slight bruise to Xi’s well-crafted image as strongman and wise father figure. Xi’s high-profile down-to-the-people visit to a popular Beijing steamed bun shop in late 2013 won him the nickname “Steamed Bun Xi” (习包子 Xí Bāozi). After the president offered Zhou accolades, many netizens asked what the steamed bun was truly made of:
yes_man2011: Now I get it. Zhou Xiaoping is the steamed bun’s filling. (October 16, 2014)
千里眼168168: The ignorant and incompetent steamed bun admires the ignorant and incompetent cutlassfish, naturally. //@黎津平: People’s Daily Online compelled to announce that Zhou Xiaoping does have his flaws. (October 20, 2014)
Want to learn more subversive netizen slang? Check out Decoding the Chinese Internet: A Glossary of Political Slang. Available for $2.99 in the Kindle, Google Play, and iTunes stores. All proceeds from the sale of this eBook support China Digital Times.