List of Internet phenomena in China

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This is a list of phenomena specific to the Internet within China.


  • Aircraft carrier style — refers to the crouching and pointing position taken by two technicians on the Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning to give the green light to the fighter pilots. Has spawned many parody images posted by web users. The name of the meme itself is a parody of Gangnam Style.[1][2]
  • Back Dorm Boys (后舍男生; hòushè nánshēng) — Two Chinese males lip-synching to Backstreet Boys in a dormitory.[3]
  • Bus uncle (巴士阿叔 Bāshì āshū) — The reaction of an angry middle aged man towards a young man seated behind him on a bus in Hong Kong, which became widespread over the Internet.
  • Honglaowai (红老外; hóng lǎowài) — An American, called George Costow, who sang Chinese Communist songs which he put on YouTube.
  • "I and my little friends were struck dumb!" (我和我的小伙伴都惊呆了 Wǒ hé wǒ de xiǎo huǒbàn dōu jīng dāile): Meme used for surprise and bewilderment. Originated in 2013 in a primary school student's essay.[4]
  • "I would rather cry in a BMW" — a 2010 phrase coined by Ma Nuo, a 21-year-old contestant on the game show Fei Cheng Wu Rao, when asked by a suitor whether or not she would go ride on his bicycle with him on a date. The phrase became a meme and caused an outcry on the internet and led to serious soul-searching about materialism in early 21st Century Chinese society.
  • Jia Junpeng (贾君鹏 Jiǎ Jūnpéng) — A post on the Baidu Tieba World of Warcraft forum which attracted more than 400,000 viewers and 17,000 replies, despite only consisting of the text "Jia Junpeng, your mother is calling you home for dinner".
  • Jinkela (金坷垃 Jīnkēlā) — a Chinese fertilizer product with television advertisements deemed so ridiculous and amusing to the point where it became a widespread meme in mainland China and Taiwan.
  • Jinsanpang (金三胖) — literally "Fat Kim the Third", used as a moniker for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un; the term became so popular and considered so obscene and insulting, it was eventually subject to censorship
  • "Just out getting some soy sauce" (打酱油 dǎjiàngyóu): In 2008, Edison Chen, a celebrity from Hong Kong, was involved in a nude photo scandal which shocked many around the world. A Guangzhou journalist attempted to interview an ordinary man on the street about the incident. The man said that he knew nothing about it, and was "just out getting some soy sauce." After that, this became a very popular internet meme, used to indicate that some people don't care about what goes on in society, or that bigger issues don't concern them because they are powerless to affect the outcome anyway.[4]
  • "Make 100 million first" (先挣它一个亿) — During a 2016 interview, talk show host Chen Luyu asked Wanda Group chairman and Asia's richest man Wang Jianlin what his advice was for young people whose goal was to "become the richest person," Wang responded, "first, set a small goal. For instance, let's make one hundred million first." That Wang referred to an astronomical sum of money as a "small goal" was derided on social media, with many spoofs appearing parodying the phrase.[5]
  • Sister Feng (凤姐) — gained significant attention in late 2009, after passing out flyers in Shanghai seeking a marriageable boyfriend with extreme demands.
  • "My dad is Li Gang!" (我爸是李刚; Wǒ bà shì Lǐ Gāng)- a popular internet catchphrase in 2010, following the Li Gang incident.[4]
  • Q-version (Q版; Q bǎn) — cartoonification or infantilization in the artistic renderings of real life characters or objects, commonly found on the Internet.
  • Very erotic very violent (很黄很暴力; hěn huáng hěn bàolì) — A common Internet catchphrase, after a report by Xinwen Lianbo, the most viewed of China's state-sponsored news programs, where a young girl was reported to have come across content on the Internet which was "Very erotic, very violent". This incident sparked wide forms of parody on the Internet, and also questioned the credibility of the state broadcaster's newscasts.[4]
  • Very good very mighty (很好很强大; hěn hǎo hěn qiáng dà) — a common catchphrase found throughout Chinese forums, and has many different variants.
  • black man's question mark (黑人问号;heirenwenhao) - "Excuse me?", apparently derived from the Confused Nick Young meme.
  • duang - a sound used by Jackie Chan to express astonishment/surprise in a notorious Shampoo commercial.[6] This sound was parodied by Bilibili user "绯色toy"[7] then quickly went viral and became a meme among Chinese netizens.

Politically motivated memes[edit]

  • Baidu 10 Mythical Creatures – A popular meme regarding a series of mythical creatures, with names which referred to various Chinese profanities.[8][9] Seen as a form of protest against increased Internet censorship in China introduced in early 2009.[10][11]
  • Chinese Dream (中国梦; Zhōngguó mèng): The phrase “Chinese Dream” was used frequently in November 2012 by Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Communist Party, becoming a hot topic on the internet. It means that all Chinese people are involved in promoting China’s social development. Nowadays, a large number of Chinese people use the phrase “Chinese Dream” to discuss political issues online. The phrase reflects the same dream of every Chinese citizen, which means to make China a wealthy and powerful nation where everyone can live a happy life.[12]
  • Grass mud horse (草泥马; cǎonímǎ)— widely used as symbolic defiance of the widespread Internet censorship in China. It is one of the 10 mythical creatures, and since an article about it was created on Baidu Baike in early 2009, it has become a cult phenomenon on the internet in China through chat forums. Videos, cartoons and merchandise of this animal, which apparently resembles the alpaca, have appeared, and it has since received worldwide press attention.[4]
  • Green Dam Girl (绿坝娘; lǜbàniáng) — Chinese netizens' reaction to the release and distribution of Green Dam Youth Escort, a form of content control software. The Green Dam Girl is a manga-style moe anthropomorphism representation of the software, where common themes involve censorship, satire and sexuality.
  • Too simple, sometimes naive: English-language phrase used by then Chinese President Jiang Zemin in October 2000 during a question-and-answer period with reporters while meeting then Hong Kong chief executive Tung Chee Hwa. Widely regarded to be in poor taste, Jiang was using the phrase to scold reporters who was asking whether or not Jiang had given an "imperial order" to appoint Tung to another term as chief executive.
  • Vacation-style treatment (休假式治疗; xiūjià shì zhìliáo): euphemism used by the authorities in 2012 to explain the disappearance of Chongqing vice-mayor Wang Lijun who was likely forced from office and disappeared from public view due to a dispute with then party chief Bo Xilai. Became a meme after internet users began parodying and ridiculing the phrase, comparing it with a similar euphemism "maintenance-oriented demolition" (维修性拆除); a sample post from Weibo read: "Maintenance-oriented demolition, vacation-style treatment. Why don't we continue: consoling-style rape, harmony-oriented looting, environmentally-friendly-style killing, research-oriented theft."[13]
  • "You know what I mean" (你懂的; nĭ dŏngde), answer given by a spokesperson of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference to a question about the ongoing case of Zhou Yongkang in 2013. Essentially means "I think you know about it, I know about it, but we cannot talk about it."

Memes originating outside China[edit]

  • Elisa Lam elevator video — In February 2013 the Los Angeles Police Department released a video taken by a surveillance camera in an elevator at the city's Cecil Hotel, showing 21-year-old Chinese Canadian tourist Elisa Lam, a Hong Kong native, acting strangely while the elevator remained stopped with its door open. At the time she was missing; two weeks later her drowned body was found in one of the hotel's rooftop water tanks. Lam's actions in the video, which drew 3 million views on Youku, have been the subject of much speculation relating to unresolved questions around her death.[14]
  • Fist of the North Star (北斗の拳 Hokuto no Ken)— a Japanese manga commonly subject to parody in mainland China and Taiwan.
  • Hong Kong 97 (香港97 Honkon97)— a game made in Japan and set around the transfer of sovereignty of Hong Kong in 1997, which features poor quality graphics, difficult gameplay, and character control, and a bizarre storyline. The game has gained a cult following for its notoriously poor quality - it has been ranked as a kuso-ge (Japanese for "shitty game"), a game so bad that it's good.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Aircraft carrier style: Taking off online". The Economist. 8 December 2012. Retrieved 10 February 2013. 
  2. ^ O'Doherty, Niamh (1 December 2012). "Forget Gangnam, this is 'Aircraft Carrier Style': Hilarious new internet meme mimicks Chinese navy personnel". London: Mail Online. Retrieved 10 February 2013. 
  3. ^ Out of the dorm, Economist
  4. ^ a b c d e ChinaSMACK glossary, accessed 17 February 2015
  5. ^ "王健林:先定一个能达到的小目标 比如挣它1个亿". 新浪综合. 2016-08-29. 
  6. ^ WeiboVideo (2015-02-26), 成龙《我的洗发水》DUANG原版 霸王洗髮液广告, retrieved 2016-12-16 
  7. ^ 绯色toy. "【成龙】我的洗发液_鬼畜调教_鬼畜_bilibili_哔哩哔哩弹幕视频网". Retrieved 2016-12-16. 
  8. ^ "【贴图】百度十大神兽_水能载舟亦能煮粥". Archived from the original on 23 February 2009. Retrieved 6 March 2012. 
  9. ^ Martinsen, Joel. "DANWEI – "Hoax dictionary entries about legendary obscene beasts"". Retrieved 6 March 2012. 
  10. ^ 山寨版"动物世界"介绍草泥马走红网络_资讯_凤凰网 (Phoenix TV official website) Archived 3 November 2015 at the Wayback Machine.
  11. ^ Qiang, Xiao. "Chinese Bloggers' Respond to the Internet Crackdown". China Digital Times. Retrieved 6 March 2012. 
  12. ^ "Ten most popular Internet slang phrases in 2013 (in Chinese)". 
  13. ^ "新流行词"休假式治疗" 网友评论大集合". February 20, 2012. 
  14. ^ "Elisa Lam's unexplained death draws attention, theories in China". Los Angeles Times. February 26, 2013. Retrieved October 31, 2015.