In a college canteen in Jiangxi, a student found a rat’s head in what was served to him as duck. The CCP’s answer: “A rat is a duck if the Party says so.”
by Lei Shihong
All Chinese knows the expression “Calling a stag a horse.” In the third century BCE, a tyrannical Prime Minister called Zhao Gao gave a stag as a gift to the emperor and told him it was a horse. When the emperor objected it was indeed a stag, Zhao Gao asked the courtiers to confirm it was a horse. Most did. Those who didn’t were beheaded.
The story is deeper than it seems, as it shows how a tyrannical power may compel its victims to call the white black and the black, white—or the evil good and the good, evil.
It is by having this story in mind that netizens in China this month made the meme “指鼠为鸭” (calling a rat a duck) viral, with millions sharing jokes and cartoons that even the CCP censors could not control.
What happened was that on June 1 students were served what the menu indicated as rice with duck in the canteen of Jiangxi Industrial Vocational and Technical College. One student found in the dish a rat’s head complete with whiskers, eyes, and canines, proving the “duck” was not duck. He posted a video on social media documenting the incident.
The reaction by the authorities was typical. Other students started posting on Weibo that the rat’s head was in fact a “duck’s neck.” Some, however, added sentences implying that it was the college principal that had asked them to do it, as he was himself under pressure from the local CCP authorities. Finally also the student who had posted the first video cancelled it and admitted it was a “duck’s neck.”
This was, however, impossible to maintain, since the video had now been shared by thousands of netizens and clearly showed a rat’s head. The college authorities and the censors became the targets of countless jokes. Finally, on June 10 the Jiangxi Provincial Government set up a commission to study the incident, which invited further ridicule.
“Calling a rat a duck” is becoming as popular as “calling a stag a horse.” Perhaps it will last. Once a stag was a horse if Zhao Gao said so. We no longer live in these feudal times. Today a rat is a duck if the Chinese Communist Party says so.