China's netizens are endlessly resourceful in coming up with clever terms to refer to almost anything that can evade the omnipresent censors — at least for awhile. We're all familiar with the "Grass Mud Horse" and the "Franco-Croatian Squid".
Strange as it may seem (!), they sometimes feel the need to say something critical about China, but to do so they have to evade the censors who will catch them, invoking the wrath of the almighty government. So now they have figured out various ways to refer to China without using the name of their country, Zhōngguó 中国 ("Central Kingdom, i.e., China") or Zhōnghuá rénmín gònghéguó 中华人民共和国 ("People's Republic of China").
Here are some clever ways to refer to "China" on the Chinese internet that can still circumvent the censors:
Xī Cháoxiǎn 西朝鲜 ("West Korea")
Cíguó 瓷国 ("porcelain / china country")
Dà cíguó 大瓷国 (" great porcelain / china country")
See here for an article using the latter term.
Just today I learned another circumlocution that is widely used by netizens to avoid the internet police: tiāncháo 天朝 ("celestial / heavenly court"). Since this expression can be used in a number of different ways, I'll spell some of them out.
1. to satirize the government
2. to mock themselves (the netizens) as citizens of such a place
3. just for the sake of levity
4. in a patriotic spirit
5. to criticize bureaucratic corruption
6. to make fun of the hapless people who are oppressed by such venal officials
When the netizens use this expression, 天朝 ("celestial / heavenly court"), they are likely to refer to the citizens of such a government as:
a. cǎomín 草民 ("grass people" — as insignificant as blades of grass; "the rabble")
b. yǐmín 蚁民 ("ant people")
c. Pmín P民 ("P people", i.e., pìmín 屁民 ["fart people; shitizens"])
To make the loathing even more vicious, tiāncháo 天朝 ("celestial / heavenly court") can also be given the graphic form 兲朝, which has the same sound and superficially conveys the same meaning, has the added implication that a "king" ( 王) is at the top of the government. Even worse, 兲 conveys the notion of "bastard", since it is made up of wáng 王 ("king") + bā 八 ("eight"), a standard pun for wàngbà(dàn) 忘爸蛋 ("bastard; son of a bitch")
[h.t. Sanping Chen; thanks to Fangyi Cheng]