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.
Allusion to the sitting president of China in general, and at present to Xi Jinping. Implies that the head of state was anointed, not elected, to a position far more powerful than “president.”
In a September 2014 speech, Xi Jinping touted “consultative democracy” as a way for Chinese citizens to participate in government without elections.
CDT first detected that “reigning emperor” was blocked from Weibo search results on August 21, 2014. It remains blocked as of May 7, 2015.
Example of “reigning emperor”:
Yushenghai (@余胜海): Crazy “Steamed Buns”: Ever since Daddy Xi ate at Qingfeng Steamed Buns on Yuetan North Road, this classic capital restaurant has become a national sensation. Demand has outstripped supply for pork buns and stir-fried liver. Yesterday’s everyday buns have become today’s tribute to the reigning emperor. (January 24, 2014)
See also heir apparent.
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.