On Sunday, the Chinese Communist Party poised itself to eliminate presidential term limits, paving the way for President Xi Jinping to stay in power long past 2023.
On Tuesday, the Chinese government issued a lengthy list of newly banned words on the social media site Weibo, even going so far as to bar use of the word 'disagree'.
The terms “my emperor” and “lifelong control” were banned from use, along with references to George Orwell’s dystopian novels Animal Farm and 1984, which describe worlds where authoritarian leaders strictly control the populations under them.
One of the more interesting choices was the phrase “to board a plane”; the China Digital Times, who published the full list, said that it was a homophone for the Chinese term “to ascend the throne.”
The ban apparently was sparked by opposition to the recent decision to vote on changing the country's constitution to allow for Xi's extended rein.
Social media users began to criticize the term limit announcement shortly after it was made, but posts that were critical of the proposed amendment were quickly deleted by Chinese censors and word bans were put into place.
When users attempted to publish banned terms over Weibo, a message said: “Sorry, the content violates the relevant laws and regulations or Weibo’s terms of service.”
The ban affects internet searches as well:
Internet searches for similar terms were blocked by censors along with social media posts. Searches for the terms “immortality,” “incapable ruler,” and “I oppose” were all blocked from the microblogging site.
There was also a dramatic increase in web searches for the term “migration” a few hours after the proposed amendment was announced, which lead to it being banned from searches.