His codename is 'thick': Xu Caihou inspires veiled online poetry after graft indictment

Bo Xilai, Xi Jinping and the first lady also included in Weibo remarks that skirt political taboos and censorship

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 July, 2014, 6:24pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 July, 2014, 6:41pm

Minutes after the Communist Party announced the expulsion of Xu Caihou, the top general and former vice-chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission last night, eloquent puns started spreading through social media and text messaging platforms.

Publicly discussing sensitive political scandals is still a taboo in China, but mainland internet users continue to find ways to get around web censorship and express their insights in mordant sayings.

”The world is neither thick nor thin, but it is flat, and in the end, the earth is round” read one of the most widespread jokes.

Another Weibo user from Anhui province posted, “life cannot be too thin or too thick. A smooth life is much better.”

“Thick” refers to Xu Caihou, as the Chinese character for “hou” means “thick”.

“Thin” in Chinese characters reads as “Bo” and refers to Bo Xilai, the disgraced former Chongqing party chief who was sentenced to life in prison on bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power charges last year.

Both Xu and Bo were members of the powerful Politburo from 2007 to 2012, and Bo once served as the governor of Liaoning province, where Xu was born.

A series of photos of Bo sitting next to Xu, including one in which Bo whispers in Xu’s ear, was widely circulated on Weibo. The photos were believed to be taken during National People’s Congress in 2010, where the pair – who

The Chinese character for ”flat” reads as “ping”, referring to Chinese president Xi Jinping, who has waged an anti-graft campaign since he became the Communist Party chief in late 2012.

“Round” is “yuan” in Chinese characters, which refers to Peng Liyuan, a renowned folk singer and the wife of Xi.

Bo and Xu are the two most high-profile Communist Party senior officials targeted by Xi’s campaign in which he has repeatedly vowed to crack down on both powerful “tigers” in the upper echelons of government and lowly “flies”, or low-ranking civil servants.

Other internet users are making their own remarks containing the key words thin, thick and flat.

”The history is fair, neither thin nor thick,” Weibo user Wang Zhihua, an actor from Shanghai, wrote.

Another post went: “Thin is no good, but thick is no good either. We need to learn more.” Xi means “learning” in Chinese.

”No matter it is thin or thick, the key is it must be balancing in the end,” wrote another, likely referencing Xi, as “ping” also means “balancing”.