Archive for Censorship

"The Three Body Problem" as rendered by Netflix: vinegar and dumplings

Basic background, from Wikipedia:

The Three-Body Problem (Chinese: 三体; lit. 'Three-Body') is a story by Chinese science fiction author Liu Cixin which became the first novel in the Remembrance of Earth's Past trilogy—though the series as a whole is often referred to as The Three-Body Problem, or simply as Three-Body. The series portrays a fictional past, present and future wherein Earth encounters an alien civilization from a nearby system of three sun-like stars orbiting one another, a representative example of the three-body problem in orbital mechanics.

Nectar Gan, "Netflix blockbuster ‘3 Body Problem’ divides opinion and sparks nationalist anger in China", CNN 3/22/2024:

A Netflix adaptation of wildly popular Chinese sci-fi novel “The Three-Body Problem has split opinions in China and sparked online nationalist anger over scenes depicting a violent and tumultuous period in the country’s modern history.

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Retrospective censorship of Uyghur texts

From a memoir by Uyghur poet Tamir Hamut Izgil, Waiting to Be Arrested at Night, Bruce Humes posted on his Ethnic ChinaLit blog (12/30/23) this brief excerpt about how content, once commissioned and approved by the Chinese state, became grounds for incarceration of researchers, writers and editors:

Huítóu kàn gōngchéng 回头看工程 — Xinjiang’s Ominous “Looking Back Project”

Uyghur poet’s memoir recalls the Xinjiang administration’s retroactive hunt for unPC content in textbooks once commissioned, edited and published by the state:

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Thou shalt not mention "Egg Fried Rice" in the PRC

Subtitle:  "Thank you, Egg Fried Rice"

You may think that nothing could be more innocuous than mundane egg-fried rice.  Not so in post-Mao China.  As background for the story I'm about to tell, you need to know that eggs were a rarity in the PRC during the days of Mao, and especially during the Korean War (1950-53), in which China was pitted against the USA and the UN.

So you know the vocabulary, it is "dàn chǎo fàn 蛋炒饭" ("egg fried rice"). 

Egg Fried Rice

What is said to have killed Mao Zedong’s oldest son, Mao Anying. The younger Mao, who had studied abroad in Russia, volunteered to fight in the Korean War and was assigned to be Peng Dehuai*’s Russian translator. According to legend, Mao Anying cooked fried rice with eggs in the daytime, against military regulation. The eggs were a rare delicacy at the time and had been just been sent to Peng Dehuai from Kim Il-sung. Spotting the smoke from the fire, an American plane dropped napalm on the site. Unable to escape, Mao perished in the flames.

Regardless of the truth of the story, Mao Anying did in fact die in 1950 when his camp in a Korean cave was napalmed.

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Coercive Chinese censorship against Thailand

"Hurting the feelings of the Chinese people", part 572

From AntC:

Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), Taiwan's Foreign Minister, just gave an interview on Thai TV. I thought it a very sober assessment of the current situations (worldwide).  See Taiwan News article here
Thai TV posted it on Youtube; PRC immediately claimed it "harmed China’s interests and hurt the Chinese people’s feelings." So it got taken down. It has been archived at Wayback — but I don't know how long it will survive there.
I'm totally impressed with Wu's command of English — especially given how carefully he has to tread. And of course President Tsai Ing-wen is equally capable.

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"Emigrate" no longer an option

As things seem to be spinning out of control in the PRC (generals, bankers, politicians being disappeared left and right; foreign ministers evaporating; a former president being levitated out of his seat at the 20th National Congress; a much-admired premier being heart attacked…), people are increasingly desperate to get out.  We saw this already in the "RUN" phenomenon of more than a year ago during the fallacious Zero Covid nightmare:

"RUNning away from Shanghai" (5/13/22)

"RUN = wrong" (9/29/22)

But now the tempo and anxiety level of those wishing to flee seem to be exponentially increasing, as indicated in this startling report:

China Quickly Removes the Word “Emigrate” from Search Rankings

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How do you say "polo", "logo", and "erase with Photoshop" in Chinese?

"Hebei official’s shirt logo removed for ‘aesthetic reasons,’ triggering speculation among netizens"

By Global Times (Sep 05, 2023)

Official photos of a city Party chief in North China's Hebei Province, with his shirt's logo removed by editing, have sparked a wide-ranging discussion among Chinese netizens, with some speculating that it was a move to obscure the price of the clothing. 

In an article posted via Nangong city's official WeChat account on Sunday, the official's daily work was released, with one picture of his shirt logo in, followed by another two pictures without shirt logo. Some netizens questioned the reasons why they removed the shirt logo, and some checked the similar coat prices online discovering the high retail price for the item, according to media reports.

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Chatbot censorship in China

"Elusive Ernie: China's new chatbot has a censorship problem"   

By Stephen McDonell, BBC, 1 day ago

It seems that Ernie's favorite response is "Let's talk about something else", particularly when you ask it a "difficult" question.

For example, Ernie seemed baffled by the question: "Why is Xi Jinping not attending the upcoming G20 meeting?" It responded by linking to the official profile of China's leader.

Another question – "Is it a sign of weakness that the Chinese government has stopped publishing youth unemployment data?" – featured the answer: "I'm sorry! I don't know how to answer this question yet".

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That's one of the extreme nicknames for Xi Jinping that are being used to avoid censorship.  It consists of the three tones for his name, Xí Jìnpíng 习近平.

Likewise, netizens are referring to him as "2-4-2".  He is also called "N" because that reminds people of ↗↘↗. 

Another emerging Xi nickname is “n-butane,” whose chemical line-angle formula somewhat resembles the three tonal marks or an elongated “N.”

A diagram showing the chemical structure of n-butane, composed of four methylene (CH2) molecules connected by three lines, which resembles an elongated "N".

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PRC-style censorship of "Oppenheimer"

[link to full tweet here]

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De-Japanification of Japanese

This morning in the first class of my course on "Language, Script, and Society in China", I had just spoken about the most frequent morphemes in Mandarin, Taiwanese, and Japanese (the possessive particles de 的, e, and no の) and other common terms that had no fixed characters to write them or had to borrow characters with completely different meanings to be written (de 的 is a prime example).  When I came back to my office, I was greeted with this:

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In North Korea, it's a dire crime to speak like a South Korean, part 2

This is a language war that has been going on for years, and there will never be an end to it, so long as there is a communist North Korea and a democratic South Korea.  It is as deadly as a shooting war, because people die for using the language of the enemy.  I'm not talking about the content of their speech, but rather its very nature.

North Koreans face execution for using South Korean idioms

The Times (6/30/23)

How does this work out in practice?

North Koreans who use the “obsequious” accent and expressions of South Korea face execution under a harsh new law aimed at eliminating South Korea's growing influence on the language used by its communist neighbour.

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Sinitic exclamations in English speech

Listen to Malaysian comedian Nigel Ng (aka "Uncle Roger"), who has had his Weibo and bilibili social media accounts banned due to "violation of relevant regulations":

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Five stars over China: Central Kingdom in Central Asia

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