The Word of the Week comes from the Grass-Mud Horse Lexicon, a glossary of terms created by Chinese netizens or 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.
Young, nationalistic netizen who attacks the social media accounts of people perceived to have slighted China, typically as part of a large “expedition” across the Great Firewall to Facebook.
The “little pinks” emerged in January 2016 after Tsai Ing-wen swept Taiwan’s presidential election. Thousands of users from the Baidu Tieba forum Diba organized to skirt the Great Firewall and post on Tsai’s Facebook page. Employing the tactic of “blowing up the board” (bào bā 爆吧), users flooded Tsai’s page with everything from images of Chinese food to excoriations of the Taiwan independence movement. Less than 24 hours after Tsai gave her acceptance speech, over 70,000 comments had gone up on her Facebook page.
Little pinks are so called because they tend to be young adults who have not yet matured into “red” patriots. They are also overwhelmingly female. The Diba forum is usually a place for jokes and memes, but in January became headquarters for the “expedition” against Tsai’s Facebook page, where organizers taught members how to scale the wall and encouraged “civilized” behavior on the other side.
The label “little pink” is now applied more generally to young Chinese netizens who lash out online against public figures and organizations seen as supporting Taiwan or Hong Kong independence. In June 2016, the French cosmetics company Lancôme abruptly cancelled a Denise Ho concert in Hong Kong, citing “possible safety reasons.” Ho was arrested during Occupy Central and continues to support the city’s democracy movement. After the concert was cancelled, dozens of posts appeared on Lancôme’s Facebook page, accusing the company of “finding a supporter of Hong Kong independence to peddle your wares.”
On August 4, 2016, Weibo user Yixuanyin (@翊翾引) urged the Communist Youth League Central Committee to “hurry up with an in-depth analysis of Lin Chi-ling’s stance on Taiwan independence. The little pinks are chomping at the bit” (團團快出深度解析林志玲台獨的文啊，小粉紅們都望眼欲穿了呢).
Can’t get enough of subversive Chinese netspeak? Check out “Decoding the Chinese Internet: A Glossary of Political Slang,” our ebook of dozens of new terms and classic catchphrases, presented in a new, image-rich format. Available for pay-what-you-want (including nothing). All proceeds support CDT.