As China continues its restrictive Covid-Zero policies, Chinese citizens have found a way to complain while avoiding government censors.
They are leaving messages in Cantonese rather than Mandarin, the official language of bureaucrats.
…”We had to lock down in April, and then again in November,” one resident posted on Weibo, China’s restricted version of Twitter, on Monday – before peppering the post with profanities that included references to officials’ mothers. “The government hasn’t provided subsidies – do you think my rent doesn’t cost money?”
Other users left posts with directions that loosely translate to “go to hell,” while some accused authorities of “spouting nonsense” – albeit in less polite phrasing.
Such colorful posts are remarkable not only because they represent growing public frustration at China’s unrelenting zero-Covid policy – which uses snap lockdowns, mass testing, extensive contact-tracing and quarantines to stamp out infections as soon as they emerge – but because they remain visible at all.
Normally such harsh criticisms of government policies would be swiftly removed by the government’s army of censors, yet these posts have remained untouched for days. And that is, most likely, because they are written in language few censors will fully understand.
These posts are in Cantonese, which originated in Guangzhou’s surrounding province of Guangdong and is spoken by tens of millions of people across Southern China. It can be difficult to decipher by speakers of Mandarin – China’s official language and the one favored by the government – especially in its written and often complex slang forms.