Giraffes Become Unexpected Symbol of Dissent as Chinese Stocks Flop, Prompting Censors to Spring Into Action

A strange phenomenon transpired on China's social media recently, as a US Embassy post about giraffes became an unintended gathering place for online dissent amidst China's slumping stock market. The situation evolved to the point where censors stepped in, potentially putting giraffes on target to become the Chinese internet's next endangered item.

On February 2, the US Embassy in Beijing uploaded a post on Weibo, China's version of Twitter, promoting its efforts to track down endangered giraffes in Africa using GPS technology. Surprisingly, the post became viral, accumulating over 970,000 likes and 180,000 comments as of Tuesday evening.

However, it wasn't the conservation efforts that captivated Chinese social media users but rather the subtext of their discontent with the country's faltering economy, specifically its plummeting stock market. China's blue-chip index, the CSI 300, has lost more than $6 trillion in value since 2021, despite Beijing's multiple interventions in January to stall the decline.

Users flooded the comments section with complaints about the stock market decline and pleas for the US government to intervene. Some users even referenced the People's Republic of China's national anthem, "Arise! All giraffes who refuse to be slaves," CNN reported.

It didn't take long for Weibo's heavy moderation and censorship to kick in. By Tuesday evening, many comments criticizing China's economy and calling for US intervention had vanished, replaced by well-wishes for US-China relations.

"The China-US friendship. Long live China," dozens of comments said. However, some vague comments expressing general unhappiness remained, but the discussion mostly shifted to the mundane.

Despite giraffes not being outright banned on Weibo, some giraffe-related hashtags, including #TheGiraffeIncident, have been blocked, according to China Digital Times.

"According to relevant laws, regulations, and policies, the content of this topic is not displayed," a notice on Weibo said when Business Insider checked the hashtag.

This isn't the first time a seemingly innocent topic has become a symbol of dissent in China. Winnie the Pooh, a portly bear, is a sensitive topic because dissidents often compare President Xi Jinping to the character. Peppa Pig also became a counterculture symbol banned from social media.

As the situation involving the giraffes demonstrates, Chinese citizens are increasingly finding novel ways to express their dissatisfaction with the government and the economy. Such efforts from censors to stifled dissent often lead to absurdities, such as protests with blank sheets of paper or banning the words "him" and "that man."

Despite the heavy censorship, people are still finding ways to voice their concerns, and the next endangered species on Chinese social media remains to be seen.

It's a bizarre situation, with giraffes potentially becoming the latest unintended symbol of resistance in China.

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