Chinese Journalists Used A Story About Porridge To Give The Middle Finger To The Censors

Following the censorship of an article in the Southern Weekly newspaper in Guangzhou, China, and the subsequent protests by journalists, China's press is battling against the censors in a way that is quite remarkable.

One of the coolest things about the protests are the subtle ways that editors and journalists are finding to get around the censors control.

For example, at the Beijing News, where the paper was forced by the government to publish a pro-censorship editorial (the publisher quit in protest afterwards), journalists got their own back in an article about (of all things) porridge.

As the China Media Project explains:

In Chinese, the word for “porridge,” zhou (粥), is a homophone of the first character in “weekend,” zhoumo (周末), the second half of Southern Weekly‘s publication name. The shorthand for Southern Weekly is nanzhou (南周), which sounds very similar to “porridge of the south,” or nanfang de zhou (南方的粥).

The article on porridge details the beauty of the "earthen pot porridge of the south". Here's a particularly telling excerpt (translated by CMP):

Hot porridge in an earthen pot, hailing from [China's] southland. Just set upon the table, the porridge still writhes with heat. Perhaps it still has a heart of courage. In the deep of the cold night, you open your mouth and white steam billows. There are so many cares in the world, and all you can count on for warmth is this bowl of porridge. A bowl of hot porridge tells us of the power of love and consolation.

Porridge with a "heart of courage"? Sounds tasty. CMP notes that this type of censorship evasion, or as they say the practice of "conveying deeper meaning through sublime and ambiguous writing", has a name: chunqiu bifa (春秋笔法).

This may not be the only act of subtle defiance. As John Kennedy of the South China Morning Post has pointed out, the Xiaoxiang Morning Post ran their version of pro-government editorial suspiciously close to an enormous advertisement for "pest control":



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