Wonderful Engineering

Chinese Government Bans Letter ‘N’ From The Internet

The Chinese government has censored the English letter N from the Chinese internet for a day. The ban was implied when the people started criticizing the leader Xi Jinping for ruling differently and used the letter N for doing so. The Chinese Communist Party proposed that the current President Xi Jinping should remain a leader and abolished the two-term limit for presidents and vice presidents. The public did not take the proposal well even those who supported the president also didn’t stand by this.

It is unclear why only a single letter was banned from the internet. The Chinese Government has also not confirmed or denied doing the action of banning the letter N. But the screenshots from Weibo and WeChat users have appeared on Twitter which clearly shows the censorship applied by the Government. Many theories are floating on why the letter N became censored for a day. Chinese letters represent numerical values as well as phonetic sounds associated with the alphabets, just like other languages.

Victor Mair, professor in the University of Pennsylvania and an expert on Chinese culture and linguistics, presented his theory on the ban saying that N often represents “n terms of office” where the value of n here is greater than 2. That is, “n>2”. Mair wrote in a blog post saying, “Naturally, many people are deeply dismayed by this unwelcome turn of events. Indeed, for as long as I’ve been studying China and observing Chinese affairs, I’ve never witnessed so much opposition to the CCP as what I’ve been seeing and hearing during the last couple of days — except for the months leading up to the Tiananmen Massacre of June 4, 1989.”

Apart from the letter N, Chinese characters which mean “emigrate” or “disgrace” were also banned from the internet. Mair also said that “board a plane” was blocked because this phrase sounds which translates into Chinese as “ascend the throne.” The censorship went way too far that even the popular Winnie the Pooh memes were also banned which were often used to compare Xi Jinping to the affable A.A. Milne character. The Chinese meme creators used the teddy bear to make a note regarding the Xi Jinping’s appearance instead of using the comparison as something positive.

Global Times, the state-run newspaper, lashed out quickly to those who noticed the ban. The newspaper stated, “The biggest reason for all this is that the rise of China has reached a critical point where some Westerners cannot psychologically bear it any longer. They wish to see misfortune befall the country.” They continued stating that the “Sino-US” relationships and the relationships with other Western countries will remain unchanged. It also mentioned the need for solidarity on all fronts if China needs to succeed. The paper stated, “The solidarity of Chinese society will face tests. Pressure from the outside world may activate negative factors at home, which in turn, increase the costs of China maintaining stability.”