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Beijing (AFP) – Cryptographic expressions and references to “watermelon” or “PS”: The case of the alleged disappearance of tennis player Peng Shuai has been banned in China, but some netizens have shown a knack for circumventing the censorship of social networks.
In a message posted online in early November, the hero spoke about her complicated relationship with former Chinese Vice Prime Minister Zhang Qaoli, and denounced a sexual relationship with him that she had to accept “under duress.”
The text was only posted for a few minutes on the 35-year-old’s official account on Chinese social network Weibo, before it was deleted by the censors.
After that, the matter was completely ignored by the Chinese media and observers redoubled their efforts to erase any reference to the scandal on social media.
Most Chinese are not aware of the issue, and also because most international media websites are blocked in China.
Despite everything, information spreads through private messages and word of mouth.
To circumvent the censorship, netizens started using the initials “PS” to refer to the world’s number one doubles ranking. A trick that observers quickly discovered.
Hence the keyword: “#Peng Yuyan is so handsome,” referring to Peng Yuyan, a Taiwanese actor famous in China.
“Handsome” is said “Shuai” in Mandarin, so “hashtag” refers to Bing and Shuai, the name of the tennis player.
Other Weibo users have taken to the tennis page to talk about a “big watermelon” making wrappers. In Chinese, the phrase “eat watermelon” means interest in tabloid news.
“Even when I sleep, I wake up to eat watermelon,” one Weibo user wrote in a later deleted message. He did not quote Zhang Gaoli, but spoke of a “politically sensitive person”.
On the Weibo account of the WTA, the organizer of the women’s tennis circuit, some have shown their “support” for example after he decided to cancel all of his tournaments in China, without explicitly mentioning Peng Shuai.
Internet users sometimes turn to the most remote places in the network, such as a comment on the case on the Douban movie critic’s website, specifically referring to a South Korean movie called “The Prime Minister and I” …
None of these scams survived censorship for long.
© 2021 AFP
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