Wordplay, blank signs, music: How China is protesting zero-Covid

Here's how many Chinese have attempted to evade censorship to demonstrate their anger and show support for protests.
Protesters hold up blank papers and chant slogans as they march in protest in Beijing, Nov. 27, 2022.  (Photo | AP)
Protesters hold up blank papers and chant slogans as they march in protest in Beijing, Nov. 27, 2022. (Photo | AP)

BEIJING: Holding up blank pieces of paper, co-opting the national anthem, complicated wordplays: protesters in China are devising a myriad of creative ways to voice dissent against the government and its zero-Covid policy.

And after authorities blocked more obvious keywords and place names from internet searches, nonsensical posts comprising repeated characters with "positive" meanings went viral on the WeChat super-app and the Twitter-like Weibo, including some that simply read "right right right right right" and "good good good".

By Monday, many of the earlier nonsense posts and references to "A4 paper" had been wiped from social sites, though similar posts continued to spread.

Social media users also turned to advanced wordplay to discuss the protests, using terms like "banana peel", which has the same initials as President Xi Jinping's name in Chinese, and "shrimp moss", which sounds similar to the phrase "step down".


Some crowds over the weekend called explicitly for Xi to step down, and yelled slogans like "No to Covid tests, yes to freedom," referencing a banner hung up by a solo protester in Beijing just before the Communist Party Congress in October.

Others were more cautious, holding what appeared to be silent protests and offering flowers and candles to commemorate victims of a deadly fire in Xinjiang last week that prompted the latest wave of anger.

In Beijing, a crowd at the Liangma River on Sunday night shouted "I want to do Covid tests! I want to scan my health code," inspiring Weibo users to post similarly sarcastic phrases.

Video clips of Xi as well as quotes from the president have been repurposed to support mass demonstrations, including one clip of him saying: "Now the Chinese people are organised and aren't to be trifled with."

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The New Indian Express