But the grass-mud horse was actually a subterfuge of Chinese Internet censorship.
For the past four years, China Digital Times has built a wiki dedicated to “grass-mud horse language,” inspired by an imaginary creature whose name invokes a curse word. Our Grass-Mud Horse Lexicon continues to evolve as Chinese netizens create new terms and give new meaning to older ones. This emerging “resistance discourse” steadily undermines the values and ideology that reproduce compliance with the Chinese Communist Party’s authoritarian regime, and force an opening for free expression and civil society in China.
This eBook distills the most time-tested and ubiquitous terms in our lexicon. Organized by broad categories, Decoding the Chinese Internet will guide readers through the colorful, raucous world of China’s online resistance discourse. Students of Mandarin will gain insight into word play and learn terms that are key to understand Chinese Internet language. But no knowledge of Chinese is needed to appreciate the creative leaps netizens make in order to keep talking.
This book is a revised and updated version of “Grass-Mud Horse Lexicon: Classic Netizen Language,” published in August 2013.
Crazy Crab’s Chinese Dream: Political Cartoons 2012-2013 includes 40 images drawn exclusively for China Digital Times, with explanatory text written by Executive Editor Sophie Beach and a Q&A with the cartoonist.
“I hope to make change, to draw something that we have never thought about, or dared to draw, before,” Crazy Crab tells China Digital Times. “I also want to use cartoons to…spread some question marks in the censorship system.”
All cartoons in the eBook were drawn between February 2012 and September 2013, when Crazy Crab was a contributing cartoonist for China Digital Times. His drawings covered a busy period in Chinese political history, from the downfall of former Chongqing Party Chief Bo Xilai to the transition of power from Hu Jintao to Xi Jinping.
A crackdown on free speech and activism that began as soon as President Xi Jinping took office in 2012 only intensified and broadened throughout 2014. A steady stream of filtered search terms and propaganda directives guided coverage and discussion of a broad variety of topics and stories, from Xi’s visit to a steamed bun shop to the arrest of former security chief Zhou Yongkang. The 25th anniversary of June 4th and the protest movement in Hong Kong were both among the most strictly censored stories in China in recent memory.
But the harsh tactics used by authorities to silence their critics did not work to intimidate the most outspoken Internet users, who continued to find creative ways to express themselves.
This yearbook is not an effort to chronicle everything that happened in China this past year. Rather, it provides a unique lens on some of the biggest stories in China in 2014 by compiling the best of the news reports & analysis, Internet commentary, propaganda directives, cartoons, and other images. “Covering China from Cyberspace in 2014” is a valuable resource for China analysts, journalists, students, and others who wish to broaden their knowledge and understanding of recent events in the country.
In this third edition of “Decoding the Chinese Internet,” we have added both new coinages and iconic turns of phrase. Organized by broad categories, “Decoding the Chinese Internet” guides readers through the raucous world of China’s online resistance discourse. Students of Mandarin will gain insight into word play and learn terms that are key to understanding Chinese Internet language. But no knowledge of Chinese is needed to appreciate the creative leaps netizens make in order to keep talking.