River Crab, Harmony and Euphemism

A Peek at Chinese Online Culture under the Censorship


Playlists: 'camp2019' videos starting here / audio / related events

An informative and lighthearted overview of contemporary Chinese online culture

A river crab (Hé Xiè) is a homophone of “harmony”(Hé Xié) in Mandarin Chinese. The word "harmonious society" was brought up by ex-Chinese leader Hu Jintao's in his speech on signature ideology, which gradually led to the censorship policy that we see nowadays on Chinese internet. The talk will introduce its recent history and status quo of the censorship with actual cases.

I’ll explain, as a native speaker of Chinese language, the subversive humor and ingenious creativity that Chinese netizens employ to get around the infamous online censorship. The censorship scheme is as bad as portrayed in Western media, however you don’t often see people talk about its inefficiency, if not futility. Due to the complicated nature of Chinese language, the collective intelligence can always quickly come up with many ways- homophones being one of them - to circumvent the existing list of censorship.

You won’t become a China expert after the talk but your will definitely know a bit more about the linguistic and cultural aspects of the gigantic country than before.


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