Chinese Corner

How June 4th Became May 35th

Evading the censors with a bit of math – Yakexi

May 35th. It may look like a typo to you, but it is a real thing on the Chinese internet. It is one among a long list of code words used by netizens referring to June 4th 1989, when the Chinese government brutally cracked down the pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square. Nearly 30 years later, people use courage, creativity and a bit of math skills to commemorate this tragedy.

China is home to nearly 800 million internet users and an ever more powerful censorship machine, locked in a linguistic game of cat-and-mouse. May 35th (wǔ yuè sānshíwǔ rì 五月三十五日) originated in the early days of Chinese social media.