hile polling has not yet officially begun, there is an early frontrunner for the Chinese character of the year — a newly-created one which young people believe describes them perfectly.
The character “qiou” is a combination of three characters, principally 穷 (qiong), meaning poor, and 丑 (chou), meaning ugly, but also 土 (tu), meaning earth. Taken together, the character essentially means “poor as dirt and ugly.”
This week, the character has received a groundswell of support on social media for being named the Chinese character of 2018 with one Weibo hashtag garnering millions of views. “This character is based on me,” wrote one self-deprecating netizen.
While it may be the people’s choice, qiou’s chances of actually winning the title of character of the year likely aren’t great as that honor typically goes to more optimistic characters that are in harmony with the goals of the Communist Party.
Last year’s winner was 享 (xiang), meaning “sharing,” a reference to China’s rapidly growing sharing economy. Before that came 规 (gui), meaning “rules,” and 廉 (lian), meaning “incorruptible.” Meanwhile, the 2017 word of the year was 初心 (chuxin), meaning “original aspiration,” part of a widely-repeated party exhortation to “remain true to our ‘original aspiration’ and continue marching forward so our mission can be accomplished.”