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China Bans the Letter 'N' in Censorship Crackdown

Censorship authorities take steps to limit online criticism of President Xi Jinping's bid for lifelong power

Chinese President Xi Jinping recently moved to abolish presidential term limits in China, meaning that he could effectively remain the country's leader for the remainder of his life. The move has understandably been met with much criticism from both within China and internationally. In response to this, the president has had censorship authorities crack down on online critiquing of his proposed constitution change. 

 

The Guardian notes that according to a list compiled by the China Digital Times website, the following search terms blocked on Weibo, China’s Twitter, were:

 

  • ‘Ten thousand years’ (万岁), which is China’s way of saying: ‘Long live!’ or ‘Viva!’
  • ‘Disagree’ (不同意)
  • ‘Xi Zedong’ (习泽东) - a hybrid of the names of Xi and Chairman Mao Zedong
  • ‘Shameless’ (不要脸)
  • ‘Lifelong’ (终身)
  • ‘Personality cult’ (个人崇拜)
  • ‘Emigrate (移民)
  • ‘Immortality’ (长生不老)

 

Mention of George Orwell's novels Animal Farm and 1984 was also banned, along with the name Yuan Shikai, who was a Qing dynasty warlord who unsuccessfully tried to restore a monarchy in China. 

 

While it's easy to see why these terms may have been banned, it is less apparent where the letter 'N' fits in. Victor Maire, the University of Pennsylvania China expert has suggested that it was banned “probably out of fear on the part of the government that ‘N’ = ‘n terms in office’, where possibly n > 2.”

 

Beijing accused the West of acting 'hysterically' to the proposed changes. 

 

Featured Image Via Taras Shypka on Unsplash