The Chinese government has banned the letter ‘N’ and George Orwell’s Animal Farm and 1984 in a major online censorship clampdown.
The China Digital Times reports that a list of proposals made by Beijing’s National People’s Conference includes the letter ‘n’, George Orwell’s novels ‘Animal Farm’ and ‘1984’, and the phrase ‘Xi Zedong’, a combination of Mr Xi and former dictator Chairman Mao Zedong’s names.
It is not entirely clear why the letter ‘n’ was briefly banned, just one among hundreds of words and phrases, although some speculate it could be considered a sign of dissent.
Charlie Smith, co-founder of GreatFire.org, which helps users track and bypass Chinese censorship, told The Guardian: “[Censors] probably determined it was sensitive and then moved to add that content to the blacklist so others would not be able to post something similar,” he said, noting that the seditious symbol had now been emancipated.
“I doubt that they actually put that much thought into it so sadly, the letter ‘N’ was a victim of this rash decision.”
Censors also banned images of Winnie the Pooh after dissenters shared images of the cartoon bear hugging a jar of honey alongside the quote: “Find the thing you love and stick with it.”
The Disney bear’s image has been compared to President Xi Jinping, prompting periodic blocks on the use of Pooh pictures online.
Mr Xi’s rule has been characterised by a relentless crackdown on critics and independent civil society voices such as lawyers netted in a sweeping crackdown on legal activists that began in July 2015.
Joseph Cheng, a long-time observer of Chinese politics now retired from the City University of Hong Kong, said that following the passage of the constitutional amendment: “There will be even less tolerance of criticism.”
Additional reporting by the Press Association