261 ways to refer to the Tiananmen Square Massacre in China

Obsession
China's Transition
Obsession
China's Transition

This Saturday (June 4) marks the 27th anniversary of the massacre that ended pro-democracy protests in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. Since June 4, 1989, the Chinese Communist Party has tried its best to stop people from mentioning the incident and convince them that the whole thing never happened.

This was relatively easy when the party held tight control over everything people read and wrote. The internet has made the task much more difficult. The result has been an unending game of cat-and-mouse between internet users, who invent clever new ways of referring to the massacre, and government censors who identify and remove these terms as quickly as possible.

China Digital Times (CDT), a news site affiliated with the University of California, Berkeley, has assembled a list of 261 distinct terms that have been used on the Chinese internet to refer to the Tiananmen massacre, and have at some point been blocked by censors. The list includes straightforward terms like “Tiananmen” and “June 4,” as well as more absurd examples of linguistic acrobatics that can circumvent censors, like “May 35” (meaning four days after May 31, or June 4).

Most of the terms are in Chinese, but sometimes to evade censors internet users write in English or Romanized Mandarin. Some terms—like “25th anniversary” and “24 years”—were only blocked temporarily, during a period of particularly heavy use, and may be allowed online today.

Chinese English
反官倒 oppose official profiteering
youxing demonstration
上街 take to the streets
move
宣言 declaration
movement
绝食书 Hunger Strike Declaration
学潮 student strike
示威 demonstrate
罢课潮 wave of student strikes
暴动 insurrection
民运 democracy movement
游行 march
26years 26years
26周年 26th anniversary
26年 26 years
二十六周年 twenty-sixth anniversary
二十六年 twenty-six years
廿五周年 twenty-fifth anniversary
25years 25years
25年 25 years
二十五年 twenty-five years
25周年 25th anniversary
25周年纪念 25th anniversary commemoration
anniversary anniversary
24年 24 years
二十四 twenty-four
二十四周年 twenty-fourth anniversary
24周年 24th anniversary
二十三 twenty-three
周年 anniversary
廿三 twenty-three
22周年 22nd anniversary
十二个春秋 twenty springs and autumns
历史的伤口 History’s Wound
天安门情人 Tiananmen Lovers
缅怀 honor the memory of
致敬 pay respects
祭奠 memorial ceremony
晚会 evening event
勿忘 never forget
悼念 mourn
毋忘 never forget
ceremony
纪念 commemorate
追思 recall
默哀 silent tribute
平反 redress
426+四二六社论 426 + four two six editorial
四二六社论 four two six editorial
June 4 June 4
屠杀+四 massacre + four
535 May 35 (May 31 plus four days, or June 4)
6+si 6+si (si meaning “four”)
631日 631 day
6four 6four
8jiu 8jiu (jiu meaning “nine” for ’89)
liu4 liu4 (liu meaning “six” for 64)
six4 six4
陆+肆 six + four
6+4 6+4
8的平方 8-squared (which is 64)
春夏之交 when spring becomes summer
这一天 this day
五月三十五 May Thirty-five (May 31 plus four days, or June 4)
四+开枪 four+open fire
64+屠杀 64+massacre
64+开枪 64+open fire
89 89
64+24 64+24 (24 denotes the anniversary)
viiv viiv (Roman numerals 6 and 4)
八的平方 square of eight
己巳月+乙未日 Jisi month+Yiwei day (1989 and 2015 as expressed in the Chinese sexagenary cycle)
hk64 hk64 (Hong Kong 64)
特殊的日子 special day
那天 that day
35 35 (May 31 plus four days, or June 4)
63+1 63+1
65-1 65-1
6四 6 four
Jun+4th Jun+4th
june june
six+four six+four
six四 six four
八八 eight eight
六+四 six+four
六4 six 4
陆四 six four
明天 tomorrow
昨天 yesterday
那年 that year
今天 today
4 4
6 6
8 8
9 9
23 23 (during the year of the 23rd anniversary)
eight eight
four four
nine nine
six six
三十五 thirty-five (May 31 plus four days, or June 4)
nine
eight
six
four
eight
nine
four
six
五四+一个月 May Fourth + one month
玖捌 nine eight
bajiu bajiu
liusi liusi (liu meaning “six”, si meaning “four”)
liu四 liu four (liu meaning “six”)
八玖 eight nine (the second character is pronounced the same as “nine” but is a different character)
刘四 Liu four (the first character is pronounced the same as “six,” but is a different character)
捌九 eight nine (using a classical form of the character for “eight”)
一九八四 nineteen eighty-nine
1989 1989
8964 8964
5月35日 May 35th (May 31 plus four days, or June 4)
8×8 8×8
八九 eight nine
六四 six four
六肆 six four
陆肆 six four
64事件 64 incident
64学潮 64 student strike
64学运 64 student movement
64运动 64 movement
六四事件 Six-Four Incident
六四学潮 Six-Four student strike
六四运动 June Fourth Movement
六四学运 Six-Four student movement
89+动乱 89+unrest
89事件 89 incident
89学潮 89 student strike
89学运 89 student movement
89民运 89 people’s movement
89运动 89 movement
八九学潮 Eighty-Nine campus strike
八九学运 Eighty-Nine student movement
八九民运 Eighty-Nine democracy movement
八九运动 Eighty-Nine movement
天下围城 empire beseiges the city
crush
屠杀 massacre
镇压 supress
戒严 impose martial law
学生+1989 student + 1989
改革派 reformist
三角政治联盟 triangle political alliance
北高联 Capital Autonomous Federation of University Students
高自联 Capital Autonomous Federation of University Students
黄雀行动 Operation Yellowbird
学联 student federation
天安门母亲 Tiananmen Mothers
学运 student movement
天安门母亲运动 Tiananmen Mothers movement
Jonathan Mirsky+网站 Jonathan Mirsky+website
全民倒共 all the people topple communism
马云+64 Jack Ma+64
马云+89 Jack Ma+89
马云+八九 Jack Ma+Eight Nine
马云+六四 Jack Ma+Six Four
不适宜对外公开 inappropriate for the public
敏感词 sensitive word
烛光 candlelight
网络封锁 Internet block
蜡烛 candle
主义 -ism
小秘书 Little Secretary
推特 Twitter
government
people
fire
candle
自治 autonomous
blood
黑衣 black clothes
学生领袖 student leader
祖国母亲 mothers of the motherland
广场上的热血 hot blood on the square
广场上的血 blood on the square
tank man tank man
tank tank
tǎn (tank)
民主女神 Goddess of Democracy
坦克 tank
Wu er kai xi Wu’erkaixi
习近平+坦克 Xi Jinping + tank
习近平+言而无信 Xi Jinping + go back on one’s word
邓小平+坦克 Deng Xiaoping + tank
周锋锁 Zhou Fengsuo (student leader
周封锁 Zhou Fengsuo
邓屠夫 Butcher Deng (referring to Deng Xiaoping)
习+影帝 Xi+movie star
蟹农场 Hexie Farm (Hexie meaning “harmonize,” euphemism for censorship)
张先玲 Zhang Xianling (poet sympathetic to student movement)
艾晓明 Ai Xiaoming (activist)
司徒华 Szeto Wah (pro-democracy Hong Kong politician)
鲍朴 Bao Pu (activist)
耀邦 (Hu) Yaobang (party leader who died shortly before Tiananment massacre)
胡总书记 Secretary-General Hu (Yaobang)
胡赵 Hu Zhao
严家其 Yan Jiaqi (political dissident)
北岛 Bei Dao (poet whose work was taken up by protesters)
国家安全沙皇 national security czar
翟伟民 Zhai Weimin (student leader)
袁木 Yuan Mu (state council spokeswoman who met with students)
邓力群 Deng Liqun (leading Communist Party theorist)
陈子明 Chen Ziming (political dissident)
韩东方 Han Dongfang (workers’ rights activist)
励之 (Fang) Lizhi (physicist and pro-democracy activist)
方lizhi Fang lizhi (physicist and pro-democracy activist)
方校长 [University] President Fang (referring to Fang Lizhi)
li长春 li Changchun (party leader during the protests)
封从德 Feng Congde (student leader)
月月鸟 Moon Moon Bird [Li] (referring to Li Peng, premier during 1989)
lichangchun lichangchun (party leader during the protests)
乌尔 Wu’er (Wu’erkaixi, political dissident)
方励之 Fang Lizhi (physicist and pro-democracy activist)
丁子霖 Ding Zilin (leader of pro-democracy group Tiananmen Mothers)
坦克人 Tank Man (referring to the famous photo)
江泽民 Jiang Zemin (party secretary following the massacre)
胡耀邦 Hu Yaobang (party leader who died shortly before Tiananment massacre)
吾尔开希 Wu’erkaixi (political dissident)
李鹏 Li Peng (premier during 1989)
柴玲 Chai Ling (student leader)
王丹 Wang Dan (student leader)
紫阳 (Zhao) Ziyang (premier until 1987)
赵总理 Prime Minister Zhao
赵紫阳 Zhao Ziyang
魏京生 Wei Jingsheng (human rights activist)
占占点 [pictographic: tanks rolling over person]
占点占 [pictographic: tanks rolling over person]
占占人 [pictographic: tanks rolling over person]
北京+暴力恐怖 Beijing + violence and terror
天安门+举牌 Tiananmen + hold up a sign
天an门 Tiananmen
TAM TAM (Chinese acronym for Tiananmen)
tiananmen tiananmen
广场 public square
金水桥 Jinshuiqiao (bridge near Tiananmen Square)
长安街 Changan Avenue (street where the infamous “tank” photo took place)
维园+晚会 Victoria Park+evening event
公主坟 Gongzhufen (area of Beijing)
公园 (Victoria) park
北京屠城 massacre of Beijing
木樨地 Muxidi (neighborhood of Beijing)
维园 Victoria Park
京城+戒严 capital + impose martial law
北京+戒严 Beijing + impose martial law
square square
天安门 Tiananmen
上证 Shanghai Composite (after the stock market dropped 64.89 points)
下跌 fall [of price]
指数 index
收盘 closing quotation [in stock market]
股市 stock market
home our picks popular latest obsessions search