Viral Content: Correct Collective Memory

 is a new CDT series introducing terms coined and used by Chinese netizens during the 2019-2020 COVID-19 outbreak. These terms include both subversive critiques of government policies and nationalistic support of them. Similar terms are being compiled and translated at China Digital Space, CDT’s bilingual wiki, as we expand it beyond the Grass-Mud Horse Lexicon to include short biographies of people pushing for change in China, topical resource pages, and special projects.  

Correct Collective Memory

zhèngquè jítǐ jìyì 正确集体记忆 

Sharing the “correct collective memory” of China’s response to COVID-19 with the world (Source: Weibo)

The record of history as approved by the Chinese party-state.

The Party’s monopoly on history became the target of netizen scorn on June 8, 2020, after Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying was questioned in a press briefing about a recent State Council Information Office white paper that provided a glowing account of Beijing’s coronavirus response, and defended against international criticism of its opacity and misinformation. Hua replied, “China issued the white paper not to defend itself, but to keep a record. The history of the combat against the pandemic should not be tainted by lies and misleading information; it should be recorded with the correct collective memory of all mankind.” The official Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Weibo account also shared her answer. Netizens have questioned the meaning of “correct collective memory,” recalling Beijing’s track record of lies and misinformation, which MOFA sometimes spreads to the world:

@海怪先生遛犀牛: On January 3, you were still admonishing Dr. Li. So, why was December 27 reported [in the white paper] as the time it was given high-priority?

@Cherubear: I want to know, what correct memories are left with the families of those patients who died before they could get into a hospital?

@Tin_Oxide: Whatever the case, I’ve set up a folder to store a whole bunch of incorrect memories. [Source]

The CDT June 2020 Censorship Digest gathers analysis of the “correct collective memory” phenomenon and its connection to Beijing’s “positive energy” push.


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