Chinese people use symbols, sarcasm to hit out at Xi Jinping's zero-Covid diktat: Blank sheets, alpacas, Freidmann

Dristi Sharma
Dristi SharmaNov 29, 2022 | 16:52

Chinese people use symbols, sarcasm to hit out at Xi Jinping's zero-Covid diktat: Blank sheets, alpacas, Freidmann

A rare and unexpected thing happened in China during the weekend and is happening even now as the citizens are marching to the streets defying Chinese authorities in order to seek better living conditions and respite from the country's brutal zero-Covid policy.

People are now filled with rage and everything from blank papers to Friedmann equations to alpacas have been used to circumvent the government's restrictions.


But what do these symbol means? 

  • Friedmann equations: Something that stood out of all the symbols of protests was a physics equation. What does it mean? Some says Friedmann is a wordplay to make it sound like 'Freeman' (anything to bypass the censorship)
  • Blank papers: The most common form of protest that was seen was people holding blank sheets of paper in the streets. The sheets are to showcase censorship. It was first used in Hongkong when people were protesting against the national security law after slogans and phrases associated with the protests were banned. Some also believe that it was a reference to the deaths of ten factory workers in Urumqi, Xinjiang in China last week.


  • Alpacas: One woman walked three alpacas down Urumqi Road, which has been interpreted as a reference to one of the earliest protest memes invented to evade and poke fun at internet censors: the grass mud horse, or Cao Ni Ma, an alpaca-like creature whose name in Chinese is a homonym for the insult “go f*** your mother”, reported The Guardian.

    In 2009, when China’s internet censorship grew more strict, users on Baidu posted pictures of alpacas, or “grass mud horses”, as a way to express their frustration.

  • Sarcasm at its best: Some protestors are putting up slogans like 'I want more Covid lockdowns' or 'I want to do Covid tests'. 

But why are people protesting in China? 

There are two reasons that have sparked widespread anger which is giving flashback of the 1989 pro-democracy protests in China. 

  • The protests were also triggered by a deadly fire last Thursday (November 22) in Urumqi, the capital of the far western region of Xinjiang.
Photo: Urumqi fire/ South China Morning Post

The fire in an apartment building killed at least 10 people and injured nine others, inciting public outrage after videos of the incident appeared to reveal lockdown procedures preventing firefighters from reaching the victims.

Urumqi was in a lockdown for more than a hundred days, with many unable to travel and many compelled to remain at home.


Last updated: November 30, 2022 | 16:36
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