China: No more award and prize!

It is clear that the Chinese government is not happy about the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize. However, it is beyond normal people's imagination that the propaganda machine would turn its resentment into the censorship of the terms “award” and “prize”.

According to the latest general notice from the Central Propaganda Bureau regarding news and propaganda in 2011, all news and commercial websites should not initiate any kind of nation-wide selection (listings and awards) of news, people or events. The background of this notice is related to a series of events last year:

Firstly, Chinese political dissident Liu Xiaobo won the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.

Secondly, the Time Weekly announced a list of “100 Most Influential People of Our Time”, which included food safety activist Zhao Lianhai and several signers of the Charter 08, including Cui Weiping and Xu Youyu. Peng Xiaoyun, who was in charge of the list, was forced to take a leave from the magazine.

Apart from the above two controversial events, there were numerous listings and awards organized by media organizations last December to serve as the 2010 year end roundup. For example, on 17 December 2010, the Southern Metropolis Daily issued 23 awards to artists, citizens, business leaders, designers, youths and etc.

To stop media organizations from promoting “illegitimate” and “un-orthodox” achievements and practices in the civil society, the government banned Southern Weekend‘s listing of best news report, “Salute to the Media 2010″, last month. Moreover, the Central Propaganda Bureau recently also decides that governmental and party authorities should have a monopoly position to issue “awards” and “prizes”.

In the actual implementation of the general notice, the Chinese character “獎”, meaning “award” or “prize”, is banned in major media outlets and public events without approvals by the relevant authorities.

To challenge the absurd censorship measure, independent media worker Wang Xiaoshan launched a “2010 Wang Xiaoshan News Award” via his blog. There are in total 6 awards and the results were announced on 12  January 2011 via Twitter.

【1】大铁锤奖,获奖者:南方都市报记者:龙志。获奖报道:《安元鼎:北京截访“黑监狱”调查》, 。

1. Big Hammer Award: Long Zhi from Southern Metropolis and his report on “An Yuan Ding: Investigation on Beijing “Black Jail”: [Translator's note: Hammer symbolizes the forceful and influential.]

【2】八爪鱼奖:环球时报英文版记者:Wen tao、Song Shengxia 。获奖报道:Twenty artists demonstrate in downtown Beijing ,

2. Octopus Award: Global Times English version reporters: Wen Tao and Song Shengxia and their report on Twenty artists demonstrate in downtown Beijing: [Translator's note: Octopus symbolizes multi-angles and extensive.]

【3】稻草人奖:河南商报记者 王文凯。获奖报道:76岁菜农遭执法者掌掴 称卖红薯系为儿子挣药费,

Straw man Award: Hennan Commercial Daily's reporter Wang Wenkai and his report on a 76-year-old farmer who sells sweet potatoes for his sick son and slapped by law enforcement personages: [Translator's note: Straw man symbolizes humanitarian concern.]

【4】水产蟹奖:成都商报 前记者 殷玉生。获奖理由:成都商报记者殷玉生因报道河北大学飙车案,被自动离职,并遭莫名群殴。

4. River Crab Award: Former reporter from Chengdu Commercial Daily Yan Yusheng. He was beaten by an anonymous crowd and forced to leave the newspaper after exposing the car accident in Hebei University. [Translator's note: River Crab symbolizes harmony and the award is presented to those who dare to confront the river crabs.]

【5】乌鸦嘴奖:时代周报 评论部 彭晓芸。获奖理由:时代周报2010年评论版相当给力,超乎期待。

5. Crow Mandibles Award: Peng Xiaoyun, commentary editor from Times Weekly. She has excellent performance for the commentary section in Times Weekly in 2010, exceeding expectations. [Translator's note: Crow Mandibles make ugly sounds but are usually accurate alerts.]


6. Alpaca Award: Zhao Lianhai, as a citizen he keeps following up on the poisonous milk incident and striving for the rights of the kidney stone babies. [Translator's note: Alpaca represents activists and dissidents.]

For individuals and dissidents, they can resist the Propaganda Bureau by this kind of sarcastic behavioral art performance. However, for the entertainment industry, it is hit hard by the new instruction. Prominent film director Feng Xiaogang describes the awkward situation in a recent directors’ award occasion and complains in his Sina Microblog:

导演会颁奖,因不允许说”奖"字,只能改称"表彰"。奖杯因为有奖字,主持人为避开这个奖字只能说:请表彰人向被表彰人颁发被表彰证明物体。请获奖者发表 获奖感言也只能改为:请被表彰人发表得体感言。李雪健说,这么多导演这么严肃评的奖,为躲这么一字搞的这么累,让人心酸。赢得现场全体导演鼓掌。

Now when directors receive award, we can't say the word “award” and have to use the word “praise”. Since the “Award Cup” carries the word “award”, the host has to avoid the word and says: let the praised receives the evidence of praise from the praise presenter. “The thankful remarks presented by the awardee” has to be changed into: let the praised expresses thankful remarks. Li Xuejiang (a famous mainland actor) said: so many directors make their presence in this solemn award ceremony. Now that we have to avoid the word, everyone is fed up. This is really sad. All directors clapped their hands [after hearing this].

Feng's micro-blog has received thousands of feedbacks and echoes. This is one of the most classic examples of how the Propaganda Bureau politicizes the apolitical sector with its absurd censorship practices.

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