From China Digital Space
Chī Guā | 吃瓜
Consuming the latest gossip, from a distance. becomes "melons," which are then "eaten" by those following. , The phrase is akin to "sipping tea" in American parlance. As opposed to "[surround and watch]," which implies the application of scrutiny to events of public interest, "eating melons" connotes the private enjoyment of drama. The phrase has its roots in 2016, after digital citizens took to mocking
After Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo died in police custody in 2017, state media outlet Global Times wrote that it would stay up all night "eating melons with the public," in apparent glee.
After tennis star Peng Shuai accused former Politburo Standing Committee member Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault in 2021, Weibo users adopted "eating melons" and "gigantic melon" as stand-ins for discussions about Peng's plight in a vain attempt to evade censors. The terms were subsequently censored, temporarily. Although many took illicit joy in the cheeky discussion of "melons," others were dismayed by the corruption of language inherent in the phrases' adoption. "When a heart-wrenching accusation becomes a meme like 'a melon we commoners can’t eat,' they’ve already won," wrote on Douban user.
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