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.
康师傅 (Kāng Shīfu): Master Kang
Code name for Zhou Yongkang, former public security chief and close ally of fallen Chongqing party secretaryBo Xilai; a popular brand of instant noodles. The 康 kāng in the brand name is the same as in Zhou Yongkang 周永康. Netizens began calling Zhou “Master Kang” in the spring of 2012, when he was reported to be the sole supporter of Bo Xilai on the Politburo Standing Committee. A corruption investigation on Zhou began after his retirement, ending with his conviction and a life sentence meted out at a secret trial in June 2015.
“Master Kang” is simultaneously a historical, political, and pop cultural reference. It is the brand name used by packaged food company Tingyi (Cayman Islands) Holding Corporation, the largest instant noodle producer operating in mainland China. Tingyi markets their products under the English name Master Kong. “Master Kang” is occasionally blocked from Weibo search results, prompting netizens to refer to Zhou Yongkang simply as “instant noodles” (方便面 fāngbiànmiàn).
Master Kang also alludes to Kang Sheng (康生), one of Zhou’s predecessors 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.
Jiupianweibo (@九片围脖): To see Master Kang stand there, his hair snow-white, making his final statement with natural poise, as if he were speaking in the Great Hall of the People—it makes me shudder. (June 11, 2015)
See also King Who Pacified the West.
Want to learn more subversive netspeak? 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.