Amid China censorship on coronavirus, new code language kicks off, becomes popular

  • China government imposed ban on using words and terms related to Novel Coronavirus

  • Chinese social media users are now using code languages to circumvent censorship

While China has banned a few words and word combination such as 'Wuhan,' 'Red Cross,' and 'Crisis + Beijing' from popular social media platforms, the users have decided to show some creativity by replacing those banned words and terms with more obscure phrasing or abbreviations to avoid the censorship.

There is nothing new about creating code words or making new languages for the Chinese social media users as the government on several occasions censored many topics.

The Chinese government censorship

It should be noted that the government of China had earlier too put a censorship on the topic of 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, which were student-led demonstrations held in Tiananmen Square in Beijing. When it comes to censorship, the government has also blocked websites like Google, Reddit, and Twitch, as well as Chinese human rights activist Liu Xiaobo from the online searches.

Now as per the Amnesty International, China has censored Novel Coronavirus-related discussions on online platforms which led to the creation of new coding language.

New language invented by Chinese social media users

The social media users in China hace out with unique codes to avoid censorship and discuss topics which the Chinese government deems taboo. Instead of using names of the places like Wuhan and Hubei, the users are now using initials 'wb' and 'hb' while Panda image now represents the domestic security bureau.

The Chinese users also changed the Red Cross into 'red ten,' since the Chinese character for ten '十 Shí' includes a cross. It should be noted that as a reference to the four regional politicians which includes the governor of Hubei province-the secretary of Hubei's Communist Party Committee-Whan mayor and the party secretary of Wuhan, who are apparently blamed for the outbreak, the users are now using the term 'F4.'

"Ladder" and "Vietnamese pho noodles" these two terms are routinely used to refer to VPNs, while "zf" is the abbreviation for the Chinese word "government", "jc" stands for the "police" and "Ministry of Truth" is substituted for the Communist Party's Propaganda Department.

Chinese online platform Wikimedia commons

Dr Li Wenliang on COVID -19 outbreak

As per a leaked police statement, the whistleblower Dr Li Wenliang, who died after being affected by the Novel Coronavirus, was asked by the police to stop talking about the virus and the doctor said that he would.

"I cannot and do not understand," for instance, is derived from a leaked police statement, which was used by social media users, while Amnesty International transcribed the conversation which went like this:

"Can you do this?"


"Do you understand?"


While social media users started to post this exchange as a sentence on an online platform, the Chinese government caught it quickly and deleted all posts. "I cannot and do not understand," this sentence was used by social media users to show that they will continue to talk about the Coronavirus outbreak and will not be silenced by the government.

If can find out these terms on Chinese sites like Wibo and try to translate them via Google, you will understand that the coded language represents the discussion on Wenzhou Charity Federation staff stealing masks, people in Chinese government using the Red Cross for-profit and calls for the Hubei governor to step down.

Related topics : Coronavirus