河蟹 (he xie) = River Crab = Mascot of censorship
Netizens invented this large crustacean meanie, whose name is a homonym for harmony, as a symbol of the Chinese government’s attempts to hide social ills by censoring their discussion. Building a “harmonious society” has been the ostensible goal of the Chinese government since 2004, but censorship may have worsened during this span. Be warned that the River Crab may pinch you if you push the envelope of free speech in China.
草泥马 (cao ni ma) = Grass Mud Horse = Mascot of grass-roots resistance to censorship
Netizens invented this cuddly alpaca look-alike as an expression of their anger and disgruntlement at the River Crab. Its very name is one of the worst insults in the Chinese language, unpronounceable in good company and “inharmonious” to the extreme. It is often summoned by netizens to irk the River Crab and express their frustration.