After all, what change could possibly be in the offing? Morever, with China’s sustained economic boom, the youth of today have never known a year which wasn’t better than the last one. For the vast majority, life has gotten better and better as long as they’ve been alive.
But there are currents and counter-currents, and exceptions to every generalization. Another current among young people is irreverence, especially to efforts by the state to control how they may express themselves.
Chinese leaders uphold the narrative that they are building a “harmonious” society and insist that they are for “healthy” development of the internet. So anyone who posts something that gets deleted from the internet is said to have been “harmonized.”
Controls on expression inevitably lead some people to try to get around them, bypassing and mocking censorship. One example is the phenomenon of Chinese talking about the “grass mud horse,” a harmless mythical creature which sounds nearly identical to the tonal sounds for about the most vile expletive in the Chinese language to use against someone’s mother. Click here and here and here for more.
Another example is the T-shirt in the photo. If you decipher the Roman numerals, you can make out that they read “8964.” Anyone clever enough realizes that it refers to June 4, 1989, the day pro-democracy demonstrations were smashed by the People’s Liberation Army in and around Tiananmen Square in Beijing.
The topic, of course, is verboten in China. Chinese leaders do not want a public debate about how patriotic soldiers fired into a crowd of their own people. Nor do they want Chinese seeing videos on YouTube that they don't approve of, one reason why YouTube appears to have been blocked this week.
So the Sohu.com blog where the T-shirt was mentioned quickly drew the attention of censors. If you click on the link now, you come to a page saying it has been deleted because it was deemed unhealthy.
But you can bet that Chinese creativity will come up with plenty of other ways to keep the censors busy.