The Chinese Are Criticizing Zero-Covid – Language Censors Don’t Seem to Understand | CNN

Hong Kong CNN — In many countries, online profanity against the government is so common that no one can take their eyes off it. But in China’s heavily censored Internet, it’s not an easy task. Guangzhou, a global manufacturing powerhouse with 19 million people, has become the epicenter of a nationwide coronavirus outbreak and appears to have failed to stop Guangzhou residents from expressing their frustration after lockdown again. A resident posted on Weibo, China’s restricted version of Twitter, on Monday, saying “it had to shut it down in April and then shut it down again in November.” “The government did not subsidize it. Do you think my rent is not worth it?” Other users left posts with directions, which loosely translates to “go to hell”, while some denounced the authorities for “spouting nonsense,” albeit less politely. These colorful posts are noteworthy because they indicate growing public dissatisfaction with China’s relentless zero-coronavirus policy, which uses snap-locks, mass testing, extensive contact tracing, and quarantine to block infections as soon as they occur. You can still see. In general, such harsh criticism of government policies is quickly removed by government censors, but these posts remained for several days. And that’s probably because it’s written in a language that most censors can fully understand. This post is a Cantonese language originating from the Guangdong province around Guangzhou, spoken by tens of millions of people across southern China. Mandarin speakers, China’s official language and the government’s preferred language, can find it difficult to decipher, especially in written and often complex slang forms. And this is just the latest example of the Chinese turning to Cantonese (a profane language that offers rich possibilities for satire), expressing displeasure with the government without attracting the attention of all-seeing censorship. In September this year, the China Digital Times, an independent US-based media monitoring agency, noted that numerous unsatisfactory Cantonese posts passed censorship in response to large-scale Covid testing requirements in Guangdong Province. “Perhaps because Weibo’s content censorship system has difficulty recognizing the spelling of Cantonese characters, there are still many posts in the spicy, bold and straightforward language. However, if the same content is written in Mandarin, there is a high possibility that it will be blocked or deleted.” In nearby Cantonese-speaking Hong Kong, anti-government protesters in 2019 often used Cantonese words in protest slogans and to thwart potential surveillance by mainland Chinese authorities. Cantonese now appears to offer a more nuanced way to express dissenting opinions to those weary of China’s ongoing COVID-19 lockdown. Jean-François Dupré, an assistant professor of political science at Telluc University who studies linguistic politics in Hong Kong, says critics are “innovating” in communications as the Chinese government’s tolerance for public criticism has waned. “Using non-Mandarin-style communication seems likely to help opponents avoid online censorship for at least some time,” Dupré said. “This phenomenon is a testament to the regime’s lack of self-confidence and increased paranoia, and the continued enthusiasm of its citizens to resist despite the dangers and obstacles.” Cantonese shares many parts of its vocabulary and writing system with Mandarin, but many slang, profane, and everyday phrases have no Mandarin counterpart. Cantonese sentences can be difficult for Mandarin readers to understand as the written form sometimes relies on seldom used ancient scripts or characters that mean something completely different from Mandarin. Compared to Mandarin, Cantonese is colloquial, often informal, and easily adapted to puns, making it suitable for inventing and throwing barbs. When Hong Kong was rocked by anti-government protests in 2019 – partly fueled by fears that Beijing was infringing on the city’s autonomy, freedom and culture – these Cantonese characteristics came into sharp focus. “Cantonese was, of course, an important means of conveying political dissatisfaction during the protests in 2019,” Dupré said. He pointed to the spontaneous birth of entirely new texts in the pro-democracy movement, including texts for “freedom” and texts that combine popular profanity. Other plays on the characters show the endless creativity of Cantonese, such as the stylized version of “Hong Kong.” This version, read sideways, reads “add oil.” Protesters also organize rallies and humiliate authorities online Beware that the chat group was being monitored by agents on the mainland, they looked for ways to protect their communications. For example, since spoken Cantonese sounds different from colloquial Mandarin, some people use Cantonese romanization (using the English alphabet to spell sounds). ), making it virtually impossible for non-native speakers to understand, and although protests have decreased after the Chinese government implemented an all-out national security law in 2020, Cantonese continues to be able to express a unique local identity to city dwellers. Hold on tight, criticize the central government for having been aggressively pushing for national use of Mandarin in education and everyday life (e.g. television broadcasts and other media), often at the expense of the local language, by some people. The use of Cantonese seems particularly appropriate for the purpose of speaking Cantonese and dialects.The effort turned into a nationwide controversy in 2010 when a government official proposed increasing Chinese programming on a predominantly Cantonese-speaking Guangzhou television channel. It’s not just Cantonese that has warned that a culture and lifestyle that many ethnic minorities are already threatened by the decline of their mother tongue could come to an end. Large-scale school boycotts of the new policy have long been similar fears in Hong Kong, with more Mandarin-speaking mainlanders living in Hong Kong in the 2010s and It got bigger as I started working. “We’re seeing Chinese-speaking students enrolling in Hong Kong schools and going back and forth between Shenzhen and Hong Kong every day,” Dupre said. “Through these encounters, the language change that is taking place in Guangdong has become noticeable to the people of Hong Kong.” He added that these concerns were heightened by local government policies that emphasized the role of Mandarin and referred to Cantonese as a “dialect”. “Instead. Over the past decade, schools across Hong Kong have been encouraged by the government to switch from teaching Mandarin to using Mandarin, while other schools have switched to teaching the mainland preferred script format instead of the traditional script used in Hong Kong.” In 2019, there was even greater outrage when Hong Kong’s superintendent of education suggested that the continued use of Cantonese over Mandarin in schools could make Hong Kong lose its competitiveness in the future. “Given Hong Kong’s rapid economic and political integration, Hong Kong’s language It’s not surprising to see the system adjust to the mainland’s language system, especially when it comes to promoting Mandarin.” using images such as taboo phrases, English abbreviations for Mandarin phrases, cartoons and digitally altered photos that are difficult for censors to monitor, but these methods are inherently limited. provides an endless linguistic landscape against which leaders can be blamed, Dupré says, whether this more destructive use of Cantonese fosters greater solidarity among speakers of southern China, or could instigate the central government to further crack down on the use of local dialects. It is not clear whether or not there is, he said, but for now, many Weibo users are concerned about China’s zero-coronavirus policy, which has hit China’s economy, quarantined it from the rest of the world, and disrupted people’s daily lives with the constant threat of lockdown and lockdown. Accepted a rare opportunity to express frustration: Unemployment. One Weibo user wrote, “I hope everyone can hold back their anger,” noting that most posts related to the Guangzhou shutdown were in Cantonese. A netizen used a character meaning laughter to post, “I am watching Cantonese people who are swearing on Weibo without being caught.” “Learn Cantonese well and cross Weibo without fear.”

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