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The letter n is banned from the internet amid criticism of the president

26 mayo, 2021

For at least one day, China censored the fourteenth letter of the Spanish alphabet, the letter ene, from its internet network, in addition to other words like “Disney”, phrases like “changes the law” and novel titles like A happy worldby British writer Aldous Huxley. The reason? A historic political proposal that will allow the indefinite re-election of its president, Xi Jinping.

Given that the possible removal of the two-term limit for the president would allow him to remain in power beyond his second term, which ends in 2023, the reactions of its critics have not been long in coming on social media. Nor has the work of the censors been kept waiting to eliminate every trace of disagreement with the Communist Party of China.

It has been proposed to eliminate the two-term limit for the country’s presidents

Those in charge of revealing the list with the last blocked terms in the parallel and limited internet that is navigated from the eastern country have been the journalists of China Digital Times, a China-focused English language outlet that escapes censorship. That which encompasses from the open network to services like Weibo, Chinese Twitter, or WeChat, the most popular messaging platform.

Why is the letter Jan censored?

Letter Jan

Know why certain terms, expressions or even letters are censored in China it turns out, sometimes, a mystery. Although in some cases the reasons are clear as we can see in the list of blocked search terms in Weibo according to China Digital Times.

Knowing that his critics have started calling Xi Jinping “emperor”, we can imagine why the title of the puppet movie is being censored. Emperor’s dream. For the resemblance that some have drawn to Winnie the Pooh and the memes that have arisen in China comparing it, the veto of this animation character and the term “Disney” is also obvious, since it is the name of the company to which it belongs.

Less clear, however, is the motivations that have led censors to limit the use of the letter ene. As Victor Mair, a sinologist and professor at the University of Pennsylvania, explains in an article, the Chinese authorities could have censored this letter “probably for fear that ‘n’ = ‘n terms in office'”, where n is greater than two.

The Guardian says Charlie Smith, alias of the co-founder of the group GreatFire.org that helps users track and avoid Chinese censorship, finds the plausible explanation. That it is used to represent an indeterminate number seems to have cost him the veto.

One more story to add to a long list

Internet Censorship In China

The anecdote of the letter ene it is part of an issue as serious as censorship. An almost surreal story that adds to the long list of measures taken by the Chinese authorities to silence dissenting voices by severely limiting freedom of expression.

Over the last few years we have counted on Genbeta different repressive actions carried out by the Government of China against free expression online and offline. From the video surveillance system he was able to find a BBC journalist in seven minutes to the sentence of five and a half years in jail that was imposed on a man for selling a VPN service without authorization. Without forgetting the accusations of espionage, the blocking of WhatsApp, the processing of application user data or the creation of the so-called Great Firewall of China.

In Genbeta | How to know if a website is blocked in China