Showing posts tagged mao

Weibo censors delete post of masked Mao portrait criticizing Beijing air pollution

Apparently the censors at Weibo are still quite touchy about the recent “airpocalypse" in Beijing, when the U.S. embassy’s air quality monitor seemed to go off the deep end and reported record high levels of pollution in the city back in January. The above image was found in the latest roundup at FreeWeibo, which relies in part on data from Weiboscope, a University of Hong Kong tool that checks popular Weibo feeds to see what posts have gone missing (that is, deleted/censored). Weibo posts with these images have gone missing on a number of feeds (1, 2, 3). Apparently the combination of Mao + criticism of Beijing’s air quality are a no go.


  1. Look at these two clever pictures! Haha. (看到两张神图![哈哈])
  2. Just as the great leader said: The people, only the people, are the driving force in the creation of world history. Netizens are truly gifted! So creative. (【正如伟大领袖所言:人民,只有人民,才是创造世界历史的动力!网民太有才了!太有创意了!】)
  3.  [Pitiful emoticon] [可怜]

Update 3/11: An anonymous tipster writes in to remind that The Economist ran a cover during the 2003 SARS crisis with Mao wearing a surgical mask. He notes that “the China chief was called in to the responsible party official, and told that ‘the highest levels’ of government were very displeased. Turns out it wasn’t because of the surgical mask, but because The Economist was using Mao to represent China.”

天葬 (sky burial / tiānzàng) is a Tibetan funeral practice where the corpse is placed on a mountainside and ritually cut with cleavers. The dead body is then left exposed, oftentimes eaten by awaiting vultures. It is a practice that is both practical (the ground in Tibet is usually too hard to dig and fuel for cremation is scarce) and spiritual.

Why it is blocked: Disposal of the dead has at times been a contentious issue in China. Though traditionally, Chinese have preferred to bury their dead in the ground, Mao initiated a campaign in the 1950s to encourage citizens to cremate corpses in order to free up more productive farmland (a notion that is still advocated today) as well as to stamp out “superstitious” folk religions. In some areas, burials are still technically illegal, though such laws are widely ignored. Cremation rates have risen since the 1950s (now at 48%), and today most urban Chinese cremate while the majority of those in the countryside still bury.

Sky burials, also known as celestial burials or open-air burials, have the added sensitive element of being a Tibetan practice. To those who are unfamiliar with the ritual, it may also appear to be a particularly grotesque one (NSFW). In 2006, in order to protect and respect the act, the central government reportedly implemented regulations, with a ban on photography and media coverage of any such burials. However, numerous photos persist online (NSFW). It’s likely blocked due to these graphic and potentially upsetting images to non-Tibetans. [Status]

毛腊肉 (“hair bacon” / mao larou) is a reference to Mao’s embalmed body in the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong in Tian’anmen Square, Beijing. The character mao means hair, but is also Mao’s surname. larou commonly refers to bacon, but literally means “preserved meat.” Thus, the preserved meat of Mao: his embalmed body. The term is generally used in a derogatory fashion.

Why it is blocked: Referring to Mao as a slab of meat is undoubtedly offensive to a government that still officially reveres the Great Helsman, though only 70% of the time. Netizens have also used 毛腊肉 as a way to criticize the current government, as in “毛腊肉 would not approve of the current economic reform policies…”

More: Among the top results for 毛腊肉 is a facetious recipe for how to prepare Mao Bacon (here’s a more recent BBS post which makes it clearer that this is a joke). The instructions (a rough translation):

A fierce boar from the Huguang province [the pre-Qing name for Hunan and Hubei, where Mao lived—ed]: First, empty the internal organs and wash with 7 kg of salt, 0.2 kg fine nitrate preservative, 0.4 kg pepper. For the deboned meat, use 2.5 kg salt 2.5, 0.2 kg fine nitrate, 5 kg of sugar, 3.7 kg of baijiu and soy sauce mixed, 3-4 kg of water. Optional ingredients that can be added prior include salt and crushed pepper, fennel, cinnamon and other spices; dry and flatten, seal up well and bathe in Chinese medicine for three days, until the surface fluffs up, that way the seasoning penetrates through the meat. Then disinfect it with alcohol and dry in the sun. [followed by various descriptions of how to eat/what it tastes like; a recent re-post of this recipe adds this line: “Because of the special preservation, you can store it for up to a year; I’ve heard that families can even preserve Mao bacon in a jar for 40 years,” the being a reference to Mao’s glass enclosure.]