The 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.
Shut people up, as you would with duct tape over their mouths. Sounds the same as “give the people an explanation” (给人民一个交代).
In July 2011, Premier Wen Jiabao called for a speedy investigation of the Wenzhou high-speed train crash in order to “give the people an explanation” [Chinese]. Meanwhile, the government aggressively limited reporting on the accident. Netizens joked that what the government really wanted was to “give people some tape” to keep them from talking about the accident and the government’s botched response.
Example of “give the people some tape”:
Jiangyanhang (@姜雁航): In the face of rising oil prices, you give the people tape, but you can’t cut off the people’s voice; you make the Fifty Centers chatter, but you can’t represent the people’s will. In other words: even if it’s blunt, it’s still the most truthful. Those under the roof know that it’s leaking; those under the government know its faults. (November 29, 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.