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Jingde Town

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景德镇 (Jǐngdé Zhèn): Jingde Town

Making porcelain in Jingde. (Cultural China)

The town of Jingde in Jianggxi Province is known as the “porcelain capital of China.” Online, the name of the town has also become a code word to refer to all of China.

When netizens write about China, the word “China” is often picked up by sophisticated Internet filters that look for sensitive words (also known as sensitive porcelain) and screen for political content. Because porcelain is often referred to as “china,” the name of this township is used to get around Internet censorship.

For example, this innocuous sounding exchange has two entirely different meanings.

What kind of a place is Jingde?

景德镇是什么地方?

It’s a small town that produces cupware and diningware daily.

天天生产杯具和餐具的小镇。

To those in the know, this can be read as:

What kind of a place is China?

It’s a small town that produces tragedy and misfortune daily.

Cupware (杯具 bēijù) sounds the same as tragedy (悲剧 bēijù); diningware (餐具 cānjù) sounds nearly the same as misfortune (惨剧 cǎnjù).

Amid a massive crackdown on Internet rumors in 2013, the verbal play on Jingde Town took on an additional layer of meaning. The Mandarin word for “rumors” (谣言)

Another codeword for “China” is Celestial Empire.