Viral Content 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 and nationalistic support of government policies. 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.
Laozi Says It Everywhere (I Say It Everywhere)
Lǎozi dàochù shuō 老子到处说
Play on the words of Dr. Ai Fen, the director of the emergency department at Wuhan Central Hospital, who after being reprimanded for sharing information on COVID-19 said, “If I had seen this day coming, I would have said it everywhere, criticism or no” (早知道有今天，我管他批评不批评，老子到处说). Laozi (老子) is a colloquial reference to oneself, somewhat akin to “Yours Truly” in English, as well as to the “Old Master” Laozi, the reputed author of the Dàodé Jīng.
When Dr. Ai’s interview with the magazine People was censored, netizens went to great lengths to preserve her statements. Amid these efforts, some added her rueful comment to images of ancient philosopher-sage Laozi riding his legendary water buffalo to the frontier. According to the Records of the Grand Historian, a sentry at the gate asked Laozi to impart his wisdom before he left so that the kingdom could continue to benefit, and the Old Master obliged by writing it down in the Dàodé Jīng.