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Working Around the CCP’s Insecurities


  • David L. Bandurski China Media Project, the University of Hong Kong



Censorship, CCP, Xi Jinping, Low-level red, High-level black, language, discourse, public opinion guidance, Xi Jinping Thought, 審查, 中共, 習近平, 低級紅, 高級黑, 語言, 話語, 輿論導向, 習近平思想


Language is a sensitive matter for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), a fact made clear by the well-documented mechanisms of party-state censorship and propaganda, which aim to repel criticism and set the agenda in the CCP’s favor. Less widely acknowledged, however, is the extent to which even terms of praise and devotion must be subjected to careful scrutiny in China. Two recent catchphrases in particular that speak anew to deeper anxieties about the image of the CCP and its top leader, Xi Jinping. These are “low-level red” and “high-level black,” odd phrases in English that invite some elucidation. The terms, which first emerged on the internet, refer in both cases to covert or unintentional acts of criticism. “Low-level red,” or dijihong (低級紅), refers in official parlance to language or conduct that is intended to praise the Party or government, but which ultimately has the opposite effect because it is patently false, cheap, or ill-considered. “High-level black,” or gaojihei (高级黑), refers on the other hand to more deliberate and skilful acts of disguised sabotage, in which language is deployed in obscurely humorous ways, or cloaked in academic respectability, in order to criticise or ridicule.

對中國共產黨來說,語言是一個敏感的問題, 這在中國的審查和宣傳機制中得到了充分的證實。審查的目的是為了排斥批評,營造有利於中國共產黨的輿情。然而,鮮為人知的是,在中國,即使是讚美和奉承的詞彙也會受到審查。尤其是最近的兩個流行語 —— "低級紅"和"高級黑",再次體現了人們對中共及其最高領導人習近平形象的深層憂慮。這兩個詞最早出現在互聯網,均為隱蔽或無意的批評。 "低級紅"指的是那些旨在讚美黨或政府的語言或行為,但最終卻因明顯的虛假、低級或考慮不周而產生相反的效果。而"高級黑"則指更有心機、更有技巧的變相貶低。它以隱晦幽默的方式運用語言,或披上學術的外衣,以達到批評或嘲笑的目的。


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How to Cite

Bandurski, D. L. (2021). Working Around the CCP’s Insecurities. The Journal of the European Association for Chinese Studies, 1, 215–237.