China Cracks Down On Memes After Proposal To End Presidential Term Limits
ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
There's not a lot of open criticism in China of the Communist Party's plans to end presidential term limits. You can find lively, if veiled, discussions on Chinese social media, but even those have quickly been thwarted by China's Internet censors.
ANTHONY KUHN, BYLINE: Even poor old Winnie the Pooh gets censored.
AILSA CHANG, HOST:
That's NPR Beijing correspondent Anthony Kuhn.
KUHN: This is an Internet meme that's been around for a couple of years, and apparently it's just because Xi Jinping's roly-poly physique bears some resemblance to a certain bear of little brain.
SHAPIRO: One particular image that has recently made the rounds shows Pooh hugging a giant honey pot. And the caption...
KUHN: Just find the thing you love, and stick with it.
CHANG: Try posting that image, and you may get a message saying, this content is illegal. Or it may just not publish. And it's not just images. Words and phrases are also being blocked, like the phrase boarding a plane, which Anthony Kuhn just did on his way home from a reporting trip.
KUHN: I was actually about to board my plane, and it occurred to me that if I actually said so on Chinese media, I could be censored because the Chinese word for boarding your airplane, deng ji (ph), sounds like another dengji (ph), which means to ascend the throne.
SHAPIRO: Chinese censors are scrubbing other references to imperial rule, too.
KUHN: Immortality - when China's emperors used to rule for life, they sought the elixirs of immortality so that they could live forever and rule forever.
CHANG: Needless to say, Chinese Internet users are endlessly clever. Ari, take a listen to this post.
KUHN: (Speaking Chinese). My mom has been pushing me to get married while Xi Jinping is in office. Now finally I can heave a long sigh of relief.
SHAPIRO: That's NPR's Anthony Kuhn on the Internet chatter around China's plan to end presidential term limits.
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