Showing posts tagged ccp

中央领导内幕 (Central leadership insiderzhōngyāng lǐngdǎo nèimù) is a general term for someone with inside info about the CCP, with the implication being they are revealing something secretive or scandalous.

中央领导内幕 is not blocked on Weibo.

In a break from our usual series of highlighting words blocked from searching on Weibo, for the next two days I’ll be looking more deeply at the keywords on chat messenger app LINE’s “bad words” list. For more about this series, see this introductory post.

月月鸟 (literally, “every month bird” / yuèyuèniǎo) is code for Li Peng (李鹏), the former Premier of China and second highest-ranking politician in the CCP during the 1990s. He promoted projects like the controversial Three Gorges Dam and was an ardent opponent of the economic liberalization programs supported by Deng Xiaoping and Zhao Ziyang, eventually helping to orchestrate Zhao’s downfall in 1989…

Why it is blocked: …a downfall brought about because of a significant event in 1989: the Tian’anmen Square protests. Li was a strong advocate for using force to end the protests, again opposing Zhao, who was more conciliatory toward the students. Li further bolstered his reputation among the protesters as their primary villain during a nationally televised broadcast meeting with student leaders, who demanded that the government retract the April 26 editorial, a document Li was very influential in drafting. Li openly scorned the students, interrupting them and flatly rejecting their demands. Eventually, he was able to build a case against Zhao, and on June 4, troops marched on the square, a decision which some citizens still curse him for to this day. A book of Li Peng’s supposed diary entries entitled The Critical Moment was planned for release in 2010, but it was halted just before publication. In it, Li justifies many of his most vilified acts and emphasizes that it was a group decision to enter the square. Observers speculated it was an attempt by him to recover his legacy before he died and others suggested that Beijing forced the Hong Kong publisher of the book to stop because it reflected badly on the leaders then in power, including Wen Jiabao and Hu Jintao.

月月鸟 are the three components of Li Peng’s given name, 鹏. Though 鹏 itself isn’t blocked on Weibo (his full name 李鹏 is blocked), I guess the censors assume that you must be up to no good if you’re using 月月鸟 as a sort of code to write about Li Peng, and thus those three characters which stand in for his name are blocked.

<宪法法院 (constitutional court) blocked during Southern Weekend controversy>


宪法法院 (constitutional court / xiànfǎ fǎyuàn) is the court charged with adjudicating cases that concern the constitution. In some countries, it is distinct from a supreme court, which is the highest court in a country and the court of last resort for non-constitutional cases. In the United States, the Supreme Court does both tasks. China’s Supreme People’s Court serves in the model of a supreme court and does not currently have the power of constitutional review

Why it is blocked: The power of the courts is a controversial issue in China. The modern Chinese court system is often a less–than-independent entity and there is no separation of powers between the courts and the state to prevent the state from abusing its authority. In recent years under Xiao Yang, the president of the Supreme People’s Court (SPC) from 1998-2008, a number of reforms held promise. In 2001, the Supreme People’s Court agreed to rule on a case and decided that a student, Qi Yuling, should be awarded damages after another student stole her identity and test scores to attend college. But what made the case more interesting was not just the decision, but the argument: the Court premised their ruling on the Chinese Constitution, arguing that according to the document, Qi had the right to an education, the first time the Court had asserted its ability to oversee the Constitution. As the case was decidedly non-political, legal scholars saw this as a gradual introduction of constitutional review into the Chinese legal system. However, those hopes were temporarily dashed after the Communist Party re-asserted its power over the courts and issued a doctrine known as the Three Supremes: “In their work, the grand judges and grand procurators shall always regard as supreme the party’s cause, the people’s interest and the constitution and laws.” It held that judges must consider political ramifications and social stability in addition to the law. In 2008, Wang Shengjun, who does not have a law background, was appointed as the new President of the Supreme People’s Court, and in 2009, the landmark Qi Yuling ruling was withdrawn, an indication that the SPC was stepping away from making constitutional judgments.   

The question of what role the courts should play and the importance of upholding China’s constitution exploded at the beginning of January 2013 when the highly-respected Southern Weekend (also known in English as Southern Weekly) magazine’s editors objected to the severe editing (cough, censorship) of their annual New Year’s editorial. The editorial, which concerned the need for improved constitutional rule, was replaced by a paean to the Communist Party. Southern Weekend editors and staffers went on strike and the drama—which involved public demonstrations by citizenscoded messages of support from media outlets and companies fed up with censorship, a teary-eyed refusal to print an editorial attacking Southern Weekend by its sister magazine, and even calls of solidarity from glamorous celebrities—served as an inauspicious start to the Xi Jinping era. Eventually a truce was struck: Southern Weekend staffers returned to their offices while several officials either lost or will lose their jobs (reportedly including the despised Guangdong propaganda chief who started the tempest, Tuo Zhen).

My records show the term has been blocked for over a year, and thus has been sensitive for some time. However, according to, it was unblocked in November 2012, before becoming re-blocked some time in late-December—around the start of the Southern Weekend controversy.


Perhaps the block is coincidental, but depending on when exactly the block of 宪法法院 took place, one could make a credible case that it is related to the event.

See also 宪政民主 (constitutional democracy / xiànzhèng mínzhǔ).

宪政民主 (constitutional democracy / xiànzhèng mínzhǔ), closely related to liberal democracy, is generally classified as a government that holds free elections, has a separation of powers between different branches of government, and maintains respect for minority and majority rights, among other principles.

Why it is blocked: Today, China is not a constitutional democracy, though it has attempted to initiate certain reforms in recent years to perhaps move it in that direction–if future party leaders so choose.*  Direct elections take place at certain local levels, and the country’s Supreme Court appeared to be moving towards becoming an autonomous body during the 2000s before its power was curtailed. However, on the whole, any discussion of political reform is strictly suppressed. For instance, when Premier Wen Jiabao made references in a number of 2010 speeches to China’s need to take up more democratic measures,  his own remarks were censored by state media

Unlike 宪法法院 (constitutional court / xiànfǎ fǎyuàn), 宪政民主 has not been blocked throughout all of 2012 and does not appear to have been unblocked at any point. It’s “sensitive” nature pre-dates the Southern Weekend controversy.

*Chrystia Freeland reminds us that countries like China and Russia have cleverly exploited their spoken desire for greater freedoms in order to justify their current more illiberal practices—essentially, declaring that they are on the right path but just need more time.

上海帮 (Shanghai Gang or Shanghai Clique / Shànghǎi bāng) is a nickname given to a group of high-level CCP politicians who were most prominent during the 1990s and early-2000s. These politicians usually had strong ties to then-president Jiang Zemin, who came to power as the mayor and party chief in Shanghai. Jiang packed the Politburo with his former subordinates, but since his leaving office in 2003, the Shanghai Gang’s influence has arguably waned.

Why it is blocked: 上海帮, like “Shanghai Gang” in English, has a decidedly pejorative connotation, implying underhanded dealings and cronyism. Peter McGregor’s The Party has a fantastic chapter on how the central government was able to rein in the group’s power by arresting and imprisoning one of Jiang’s most trusted allies, Chen Liangyu, on corruption charges. As the Communist Party essentially runs China, it can be helpful to think of groups like the Shanghai Gang and the Youth League faction (团派 / tuánpài—also blocked on Weibo) as China’s de facto form of political parties. These alliances are often based on personal connections as well as ideology. For a government which likes to present itself as unified on all fronts, writing about such political in-fighting is no doubt frowned upon. [Status]

彭丽媛 (Peng Liyuan) is a Chinese singer well-known for her patriotic and rural folk songs during appearances on the annual CCTV New Year’s Gala. She is married to the current vice-president Xi Jinping, who is widely expected to take over as president later this year.

Why it is blocked: Though Xi, like most high-level CCP officials, earns a block on Weibo, Peng is likely the only unsullied wife of one to receive that honor as well* (Hu Jintao’s and Wen Jiabao’s wives are uncensored, though Wen’s son is blocked because of corruption allegations). This is probably due to the combination of her status as the incoming first lady along with her already high profile as a glamorous celebrity. Like the model heroes in modern Chinese history, she is a member of the Army (serving as a civilian with the rank of major general) who had to sacrifice for her country—albeit in the form of lost commercial endorsement opportunities and the like. [Status - 11/25/11, 2/5/12, 3/12/12: blocked]

*Update: Zhou Enlai’s wife, Deng Yingchao (邓颖超), through no “fault” of her own, is also blocked.

陈希同 (Chen Xitong) was the former party secretary of Beijing from 1992-95 and mayor from 1983-93, during which time he famously asserted that only two hundred had died during the Tiananmen crackdown. He was dismissed on corruption charges in the mid-90s and was imprisoned for 8 years before being released on medical parole.

Why it is blocked: The parallels between Chen’s downfall and Bo’s are quite interesting. Both were rising stars within the CCP Politburo and mayors of prominent cities. Both were arguably undone by a mixture of arrogance (Bo for “trying to rally public opinion in favor of his now-defunct bid to join the Politburo Standing Committee”; Chen for “boasting that his power was beyond anyone’s reach”), corruption (although Chen’s was demonstrably much less than was initially reported in the mid-90s; in the end, he personally took something in the neighborhood of a $100,000 in bribes, most in the form of gifts—small potatoes considering what others in China have been punished for) and for personal/political reasons. Each of their deputy mayors (who even share the same, albeit common, surname) also played sensational roles in their falls: Wang Lijun sparked Bo’s purge with his visit to the American consulate in Chengdu while Wang Baosen committed suicide under suspicious circumstances, with some claiming his choice to die in Huairou was a sort of clue or signal. Chen’s son was sentenced to prison; Wang’s merely has to suffer the infamy of being known as not owning a Ferrari. [Chen’s block was not triggered by the Bo incident; it was blocked back in January. Status - 1/14/12: blocked; 2/5/12: unblocked; 3/12/12: blocked]

Also of note: The CCP pulled out all the stops to smear Chen, including branding him as “corrupt and decadent.” Newspapers intimated that he had a taste for “entertaining young female television presenters,” and it later came out that he cavorted about with a mistress who was 15 years old. A thinly-veiled roman à clef entitled The Wrath of Heaven about Chen was released then quickly banned in 1997.

薄熙来 (Bo Xilai) was the party secretary (essentially the mayor) of Chongqing from 2007 to 2012. He was the son of Bo Yibo, one of the Eight Elders and a prominent Chinese Communist Party official. Bo Xilai was speculated to be a prime candidate for appointment to the highest governing body in China, the Politburo Standing Committee until he was ousted from him position earlier today.

Why it is NOT blocked: This is a case where what is not blocked is more interesting than what is. Bo Xilai was recently involved in a major controversy when his police chief visited the American consulate in a nearby city, supposedly in a bid to request political asylum after offering to reveal his boss’s corruption to central authorities. Under normal circumstances, one would assume a nervous Internet company would play it safe and block everything associated with the incident (see this list of blocked names of people who were caught up in previous scandals [look under the column “scandal”]), and for a time, the police chief’s name, 王立军 (Wang Lijun), was blocked as was Bo Xilai. However, both were subsequently unblocked and Bo Xilai’s name even became a trending topic on Weibo after his removal was announced. Speculation is that the Chinese leadership ordered Weibo to unblock Bo’s name in order to openly purge him and the cloud hanging over him before the transition to new leadership later this year. [Status - 12/29/11: blocked; 2/5/12: unblocked; 2/27/12, 3/12/12: blocked; 3/15/12: unblocked;3/17: blocked]

Update:Sorry, the fun’s over. As of March 17, Bo Xilai is now blocked from searches and existing posts are being selectively pruned.

A limerick for the fallen Bo:
Young Bo was a man of great morals,
Who was never afraid of a quarrel.
    But his chief of police
    Was given 假期 [pronounced jiàqī]
So now his career? In spiral. 

元老 (yuánlǎo) is a term for a veteran or old leader, but in the context of the Chinese Communist Party, it refers to the Eight Elders. These senior leaders, headed by Deng Xiaoping, held substantial power during the 1980s and 1990s. In the English-speaking world, these men are often sarcastically called The Eight Immortals.

Why it is blocked: Though the Eight Elders were not the heads of state and were not recognized as an official body in the Constitution, major decisions had to be run through them. During the June 4 demonstrations, it was the Elders who drove Politburo discussions which eventually led to the crackdown. A new wave of elders (including Jiang Zemin) has since replaced the original eight, but they do not wield the power that the 1980s and 90s body once did. [Status - 11/17/11: blocked; 2/5/12, 3/12/12: unblocked]

江泽民 (Jiang Zemin) is a former Chinese politician, who served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of China from 1989 to 2002 and as President of the People’s Republic of China from 1993 to 2003.

Why it is blocked: A number of leaders and politicians’ names are banned on Weibo, presumably to prevent insults and virtual paint splattering. Though Jiang has been out of power since 2005 (though he still attended NPC meetings up until 2008), rumors that he was dead pushed Weibo in July to censor all searches with the character 江. Fortunately, one is able to search for rivers again, but Jiang’s full name is still banned. [Status - 12/7/11, 2/5/12, 3/12/12: blocked]