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斯巴达 (Sībādá): Sparta

“This is the 18th Party Congress!!!”

The Mandarin transliteration of “Sparta” sounds nearly the same as the abbreviation for the 18th National Party Congress (十八大 Shíbā dà), the decennial leadership transition, which saw all previous members of the Politburo Standing Committee step down except for Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang, who replaced Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao as the highest of party officials.

Netizens have turned to the term “Sparta” as the government steps up its censorship efforts and cracks down on potential unrest in anticipation of the transition.

Beijing implemented a number of rather Spartan policies in anticipation of the Congress, including restricting the sale of kitchen knives and having cabbies remove or disable the rear window cranks in their taxis. The term “Sparta” also became a sensitive word in the lead up to the Party Congress.