Censored Memes, Search Terms and Images from China’s WWII Parade

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An image of President Xi at the military parade, with an added speech bubble that reads, ““It’s f**king hot.”

This post was written by Vivienne Zeng and originally published on Hong Kong Free Press on September 3. It is republished on Global Voices under a partnership agreement.

Censors in China were extra busy on Thursday as Beijing made an all out effort to ensure a massive military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War II went without a hitch.

The word “military parade” topped keyword rankings on microblogging site Weibo, with 460,000 searches recorded. Whilst the visible comments were overwhelmingly positive, posts which were removed and collected at FreeWeibo.com showed a different picture. Below are some of the most popular memes and comments blocked on the Twitter-like Chinese platform.

1. Residents living in Beijing’s restricted zone complained and joked about not being able to open their windows or go onto their balconies. The following notice asked residents not to peer out of their windows during the parade.

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“Dear resident, in the morning of September 3 during the parade, please keep your windows shut. Don't attempt peeping. Please understand and give your support. Zhao Jia Lou Community Committee.”

Some fell foul of Godwin’s Law, comparing the communist regime with Nazi Germany. Some noted that even Hitler allowed people to watch military parades from their windows.

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2. Several pictures poked fun at President Xi Jinping standing in the scorching heat with his signature fresh-out-of-bed look. One of the images said “It’s f**king hot” (see image at the top of the post).

Another banned picture showed an older woman kindly putting up an umbrella for Xi in front of the TV and fanning him.

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Xi is often compared to Winnie the Pooh because of his body shape. So this picture with the cartoon character standing in his vehicle was also censored.

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3. Former President Jiang Zemin drew quite a lot of attention with his black sunglasses and stern appearance. This picture of Jiang looking totally cool and collected while a unusually animated Xi gives a passionate speech about war and peace gained traction on social media platform WeChat.

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Xi Jinping gives a passionate speech during the parade.

Jiang, 89, is nicknamed “the toad.” In this picture, the former leader grabbed on to a handrail at Tiananmen Gate with three fingers on each hand, thereby mimicking the cold-blooded amphibian.

It seemed search results for “Jiang Zemin” were not shown on Weibo “due to relevant laws and regulations.”

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The search engine notice: According to relevant laws, regulations and administrative rules, the search result cannot be shown.

4. Residents who could not get into the restricted area in downtown Beijing to watch the parade made invitations for themselves. The invites promised “front-row” TV seats.

Left: fake invitation to military parade shared by netizens. Right: the real invitation.

Left: fake invitation to military parade shared by netizens. Right: the real invitation.

5. Female soldiers gained much attention with their short skirts and high-pitched voices. However, civil rights lawyer Yuan Yulai blasted state-owned CCTV for focusing on such superficial matters whilst netizens were more than happy to see “a sea of breasts.” Both Yuan’s comment and netizens’ comments about breasts were blocked on Weibo.

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Is this image from the actual parade? Let's add a caption that says if it is or not.

6. The troops at the parade displayed mind-boggling uniformity.

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A widely circulated image after the parade rehearsal last weekend.

That prompted some to share this cartoon online:

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7. Whilst the Chinese media were told to downplay news of absent world leaders, netizens nevertheless allowed their imaginations to fly. This edited image of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un supposedly spying on President Xi and his South Korean counterpart Park Geun-hye from afar was very popular.

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So was this one showing US President Barack Obama and his family “watching” the Chinese military parade in front of their TV.

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In this picture, Obama scolds Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: “The Chinese military parade looks so pretty. If not for you, I would have gone.” To which Abe says: “It’s my fault.”

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