A humour column in China Daily written by Huang Hung discusses a new policy that has gone into effect in China in which users will lose mobile phone privileges if they’re caught textind dirty characters.
She discusses one of the problems with this policy:
Also, we have, probably, the most polysemies out of any language in the world. The mobile censor system in China operates on picking out sensitive words that might indicate to the computer that the message is a dirty joke. Words such as “xing” () often means sex but is also a popular suffix to describe a specified quality; and “fang shi” (), literally house issues, also means having sex; while “cao” (), which means manage or take, is also the F word. So, here is a joke about dirty jokes that I want to share with you:
A patriotic citizen sends out a text message which says: “Kan dao zong li wei bao zhang xing zhu fang shi, cao sui le xin zhen gan dong.” This means, “terribly moved by our premier’s concern over guaranteed low-income housing issues”. But the man gets a message from the operator which says: “Sex and F*** are dirty words and forbidden, so your number has been canceled. If you have a problem, please contact public security.”
But the kicker comes when she assigns blame for the (dumb) new policy:
This is why I think whoever thought up this rule is either out of his mind, or a devious, conniving conspirator who is trying to sabotage the entire Chinese mobile system. Someone is F***ing with us, I tell you, and I think I have figured out who. It must be James Chanos, the American billionaire and hedge fund manager who is shorting China in New York.
Now we all know China Mobile is the largest mobile operator on the planet. We also know that a good chunk of its revenue comes from text messages. And it is really a no-brainer that dirty jokes are probably the most common of all text messages and is responsible for a huge chunk of revenue. Killing dirty jokes is going to hurt the bottom line (no pun intended) and stock prices will fall for China Mobile. Ergo, anyone who wants to short China stocks would want to see regulations like this.
Ok, it’s obviously a big joke.
But it’s interesting that Chanos has enough cultural currency in Chinese popular media that his short (which is technically not a China short, but a Chinese real estate short) is worth making the punch line of a long joke.