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New five black categories

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新黑五类 (xīn hēi wǔ lèi): the new five black categories

The new five black categories depicted as the 2008 Beijing Olympics mascots.

During the Cultural Revolution, the five black categories referred to five political identities: landlords, rich farmers, anti-revolutionaries, bad-influencers, and right-wingers.

On July 31, 2012, a People’s Daily overseas edition editorial simultaneously called for internal reform and warned against U.S. efforts to undermine China from the grassroots. Netizens latched on to this passage in particular:

With “Internet freedom” as its slogan, they [the Americans] will attack “top down” governance in order to push forward the traditional model of liberal democracy; through the use of rights lawyers, underground religion, dissidents, Internet leaders, and disadvantaged social groups as the core forces, they will push for a “bottom-up” approach to Chinese governance from the grassroots to lay a foundation for changing China.


Activists immediately picked up the five groups listed in the People’s Daily article and dubbed them the “new five black categories.”