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Thirty-Fifth of May

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五月三十五日 (wǔ yuè sān shí wǔ rì): The thirty-fifth of May

In China, important dates are usually referred to by the date on which they occurred. Thus, the Tiananmen Square Incident is usually referred to in Chinese as the “June 4th Incident” or simply as “June 4th” or “six, four.” However, June 4th is a sensitive word that alerts web censors, so netizens sometimes use the word “May 35” to refer to the Tiananmen Square Incident.

For example, in the run-up to the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre, the following essays quietly circulated in the Chinese blogosphere. This one is written by an anonymous author calling himself Deserter. Another one is a Kafkaesque story about a visit to Tiananmen Square on June 4th, 2009, written by a blogger using the name 十七只猫和鱼 (Seventeen Cats and Fish), who codes key phrases (“something something square,” etc) in order to bypass censors.

See CDT's retrospective look at June 4th.