Chinese citizens use secret code to discuss coronavirus online

Chinese citizens use secret code to discuss coronavirus online

Top Stories | Apr 1, 2020:


Chinese residents upset with the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic have taken to using code words in expressing their anger online to avoid censorship.

“To combat systematic internet censorship, netizens in China have created a new vocabulary to discuss ‘sensitive issues,’” Tom Cho, Amnesty International’s Chinese editor, told in March 2020. “This language keeps evolving as the government constantly expands its list of prohibited terms online. Those not keeping up with the trend could easily be left confused.”

The CCP censors sensitive topics and silences WeChat accounts with posts critical of the government.

Amnesty International reports that Chinese citizens use “zf” as an abbreviation for the Chinese word “government” and the letters “jc” to refer to police. Images of pandas represent the domestic security bureau and “Vietnamese pho noodles” and “ladders” refer to posts on how to use technology, according to As for references to Chinese President Xi Jinping? Citizens use the term “narrow neck bottle,” according to

“To fully appreciate conversation on China’s social media platforms, merely knowing Chinese is not enough,” Cho told

Frustrated with the ongoing lockdown in cities such as Wuhan, where COVID-19, which stands for coronavirus disease 2019, is suspected to originate, residents have done more than taken to social media to voice discontent.

When People’s Republic of China Vice Premier Sun Chunlan visited the area recently, footage showed Wuhan residents shouting loudly: “Everything is fake” and “It’s all fake,” according to

“Some legitimate information about the virus has been suppressed by government control over the news and efforts to silence negative coverage,” according to Amnesty International. “Numerous articles have been censored since the beginning of the crisis. Government censors have quickly deleted online posts and hashtags related to the coronavirus and demands for free speech. Authorities have harassed independent journalists and activists for sharing information about the coronavirus on social media. People in China have lived under government censorship for many years, but now many are questioning how censorship may have delayed an effective response to the virus outbreak and put lives at risk. Show your solidarity and ask President Xi Jinping to stop censoring the Chinese people.”