Following the news that China will more than likely remove term limits and allow President Xi Jinping to rule indefinitely, China has not only banned memes of the announcement, but also two of George Orwell’s most famous books and the letter “N.”
Additionally, the phrase “Xi Zedong” is also banned, a comparative reference to the last most powerful ruler of China before Xi, Mao Zedong, known as one of the primary founders of the Chinese Communist Party who ruled until his death.
George Orwell’s novels “1984” and “Animal Farm” were also banned by the government. “1984” is the story of a dystopian future where society is ruled by a tyrannical “Big Brother” while the masses live under constant surveillance meant to thwart independent thinking and individualism.
“Animal Farm” on the other hand is an allegory for events leading up to the Russian Revolution in 1917 and through the brutal of rule Joseph Stalin and the Soviet Union. Orwell himself was highly critical of Joseph Stalin’s brutal reign of terror over Russia.
Both novels certainly reflect aspects of China’s society today under the governance of the Chinese Communist Party. China is known to take extreme measures when surveilling the population and censoring unfavorable news. While Xi has yet to prove whether his leadership will be as harmful to the general population as Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution, which saw the death of millions and was also influenced by strategies within Stalinist communism, tyrannical themes presented in the book certainly mirror aspects of China’s current reality.
As for the letter “N”, it is not fully known why it was briefly censored after being added to the blacklist of words and phrases policed throughout China’s internet.
Charlie Smith, co-founder of Chinese censorship tracking site GreatFire.org, told The Guardian (via Evening Standard):
“[Censors] probably determined it was sensitive and then moved to add that content to the blacklist so others would not be able to post something similar.
“I doubt that they actually put that much thought into it so sadly, the letter ‘N’ was a victim of this rash decision.”
Feature Image (left) via YouTube / Movieclips