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Rachel Lu

What’s What on Weibo, China’s Twitter – The Lay of the Land

Following our well-received series Who’s Who on Weibo, Tea Leaf Nation is pleased bring you a second series discussing some of the popular memes and terms of art in the Chinese social media. Please email us at editors@tealeafnation.com if you would like to suggest a new term to add to the list.

Please see Part 2  - the Main Characters and Part 3 – The Mascots.

天朝 (tian chao) = Celestial Dynasty =  China’s current regime

Netizens have steeped this antique moniker for “China” in a generous dose of irony and sarcasm. They use it to refer to the current regime, which claims to have liberated the Chinese people from the feudal dynastic cycles of the ancien regime since 1949. A related term is the “Red Dynasty” (红朝).

帝都 (di du) = Imperial City = Beijing

The center of “All Under Heaven” can be none other than the capital of the People’s Republic, with a “Bird’s Nest” full of China’s most precious cultural assets, and a pair of “Big Boxer Shorts” (大裤衩) full of the country’s most important political jewels.

魔都 (mo du) = Magical City / Devil’s City = Shanghai

It is a city of magic, or black magic, depending on your point of view. Order coexists with chaos, modern marvels sprout up alongside ancient mysteries, and wily business dealings take place amidst refined bourgeois culture. In the 21st century, Shanghai never inspires indifference; it is either where you want to be, or where you want to escape from.

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Rachel Lu

Rachel Lu is a co-founder of Tea Leaf Nation. Rachel traces her ancestry to Southern China. She spent much of her childhood memorizing Chinese poetry. After long stints in New York, New Haven and Cambridge, she has returned to China to bear witness to its great transformation. She is currently based in China.