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261 ways to refer to the Tiananmen Square massacre in China

Crowds of jubilant students surge through a police cordon before pouring into Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989 during a pro-democracy demonstration. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the bloody June 4 1989 army crackdown on the pro-democracy movement at Beijing's Tiananmen Square.
Reuters/Stringer
Try to act like this never happened.
By Nikhil Sonnad
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

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.

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

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