Phrase of the Week: Thanks to the Country

Phrase of the Week: Thanks to the Country

The  comes from the Grass-Mud Horse Lexicon, a glossary of terms created by Chinese  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.

gǎnxiè guójiā 感谢国家

“Write ‘thanks to the leaders’ 10,000 times… no, ‘Thanks to the country!!'” (artist unknown)

Forced praise for the Chinese Party-state. Originates from a controversy over remarks by Olympic gold medalist Zhou Yang.

In February 2010, Chinese speed skater Zhou Yang won the 1,500 meter event at the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games. She thanked her parents for their support at a press conference following her win. Yu Zaiqing, Deputy Director of the National Sports Bureau, criticized her for not first thanking her country. Netizens and state media alike balked at Yu’s callousness. The entry about him on the Wikipedia-like Baidu Baike was altered to say that he had “no mother and no father” and was “raised by the Communist Party.” As of November 2017, the first paragraph of the Baike entry describes the 2010 controversy, later noting that he was removed from his position at the National Sports Bureau in September 2011.

Despite the negative reaction to Yu, at a subsequent press conference Zhou Yang thanked China first, then her parents and coaches.

Giving “thanks to the country” is now disingenuous praise for an overbearing regime. The phrase can also be used to criticize a state project of minor benefit and substantial cost, or when the government takes small measures to address a problem of its own making:

-meng-lang- (@-梦-郎-): As a Chinese person, you must understand gratitude. First of all, we must give thanks to the country and to the Party. Although many years have passed and the lives of the people at the bottom rung of society haven’t improved, we face greater pressure than before, and happiness is farther from our reach, this could all just be an American imperialist plot… Cool org.gif

作为中国人,要懂得感恩,首先咱们要感谢国家,感谢党,很多年虽然过去了,底层人民的生活虽然并没多大改善,但是压力应该比以前更大了,幸福也离我们更远了,也许这就是美帝国主义的阴谋。。。(November 23, 2015) [Chinese]

Fennudezhibei_IRS (@愤怒的纸杯_IRS): Thanks to the country‘s policies… I’m an only child.

感谢国家政策。。。。我是独生子女 (November 24, 2015) [Chinese]

See also the netizen term Chinese Thanksgiving (Zhōngguó Gǎn’ēnjié 中国感恩节), or CDT’s translation of a 2008 blogpost titled “To Whom Should I Be Grateful?” 

Can’t get enough of subversive Chinese netspeak? Check out our latest ebook, “Decoding the Chinese Internet: A Glossary of Political Slang.” Includes 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.

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