<Quick explanations for sea cucumber, yellow, evolution, candle wax, and three-color cat and a request to please read more carefully>
Update 3/22/12: Read this Disinformation article on my concerns with people misinterpreting this site.
To those who are new to the site, please wander over to the About section to get a better sense of what this site is tracking (or better yet read this article). I am NOT uncovering words that are blocked by the Chinese government. These are words that are voluntarily self-censored by one Internet company in China. I’m a bit dismayed at the various sites which are using the words I’ve uncovered as merely punchlines to the “How crazy is China these days?” question. China is not crazy. It’s a fascinating and interesting country with flaws like any other country.
There are usually specific reasons why a word is blocked (on this, I stress again, one site) and my goal is to provide the context for why. The generalizations that I’ve seen from people who’ve picked up this site have been scarily ignorant, and I guess I’m partly to blame for allowing my list to get so easily misinterpreted. My apologies. So as of now I’m removing my untranslated full list of blocked words (though I’ll leave up two samples which I have translated) in order to reduce the chance that someone will misinterpret my results.
Ok, on to the fun stuff. A few quick explanations for some words I’ve seen floating around:
- Phoenix the band is not banned in China (if a Chinese person wanted to write about an American band, they’d probably just use the English word, hence, 100,000+ search results on Weibo for “Radiohead” while only 20,000+ for the Chinese name (电台司令) for the band). 火凤凰, aka, FirePhoenix is an encryption and anti-censorship software used to circumvent the Great Firewall in China, similar in a way to Ultrasurf.
- Sea Cucumbers are not banned in China. The reason 玉足海参 is blocked is because the first two characters (玉足, literally jade foot) are some sort of reference to foot fetishism (SFW Google image search). More on foot fetishism here.
- Evolution is not banned in China. In fact, more people believe in evolution in China than the United States. The English word “evolution” is indeed blocked on Weibo, probably not out of malice toward Darwin and his theory, but likely because the censors at Weibo messed up and meant to block “revolution” (my best guess).
[Update 4/13/12: Bloodandtreasure notes “I think it’s probably more to do with John Foster Dulles’ concept of peaceful evolution away from Communist rule; guarding against which was offered as a justification for Tiananmen, among other things. This is still a significant part of the CPC’s outlook, though maybe not as central as it was.” Great guess, but why isn’t 和平演变 blocked? Very curious. But indeed, it is still a very significant part of the CCP’s outlook.]
- Cande wax is not blocked in China. 滴蜡 (literally, “drip candle[wax]”) is indeed blocked, and unfortunately, Google simply translated it as candle wax. The actual intention of the censor was to block wax play, the sexual activity.
- Cats of three colors are not indiscriminately killed in China. The term “colored cat” (any color at all) will be blocked. This is likely because it is a reference to the Deng Xiaoping saying “It doesn’t matter if the cat is black or white, so long as it catches mice it’s good.” I explain it more clearly (with an adorable cat pic) in this post.
- Yellow isn’t censored in China (yes, there are yellow crayons in China; you will not go to jail if you wear a yellow shirt) but rather the Chinese characters for yellow (黄色) are blocked because it can be used to describe pornography.
- Food allergies aren’t banned, but rather a phrase (敏感, meaning “sensitive,” ie, politically sensitive or otherwise) within the word (食物敏感) is blocked.
- “Opening a magazine” isn’t banned, but rather it’s the characters for Open Magazine (开放杂志), a magazine known for its democratic leanings, which are being blocked.
Will return with typical blog entries in the coming days. Thanks for reading!