China Digital Times has a great wrap up of the heavy handed propaganda New Year Gala on CCTV. As a result, the censors had a whole new list of words to block behind the Great Firewall of China.
To dampen criticism, a number of related search terms have been blocked on Sina Weibo, including CCTV Gala + politics (春晚＋政治), CCTV Gala + brainwash (春晚＋洗脑), and CCTV Gala + suck up (春晚＋献媚). As Wong noted, some complained that the gala felt like an episode of network’s propaganda-heavy nightly newscast: CCTV Gala + News Simulcast (春晚＋新闻联播) is also blocked. Another censored search term is CCTV Gala + steamed bun (春晚＋包子), referring to [President] Xi’s appearance at a Beijing steamed bun shop in 2013 which became a symbol of his personal image-crafting.
Maybe the government stepped up the propaganda because of the predictions based on the Chinese zodiac for the 2016 Fire Monkey.
The Monkey is very intelligent, hyperactive and strong-minded. He represents the unfettered mind freed from inhibitions and guilt. Relieving himself from the heavy burdens of a touchy conscience, the Monkey type will not hesitate to test his theories, experiment and think the unthinkable. In his domain, everything is possible. What is difficult, he could do right away; what is impossible may take a little longer.
All the animals have a shadow side, and the Monkey is no exception. The problem solving tendencies can turn the Monkey to being a tricky tactician, opportunistic and not all that trustworthy. The youthfulness hides an unscrupulous adolescent, and the independence can turn to unfaithfulness.
While the leadership in Beijing denounce belief in powers of the zodiac, they have to know that most Chinese still hold a bit of the old ways in the back of their minds. And nothing can be worse for a dictatorship than a whole year dedicated to people with unfettered minds who think anything is possible and who can be tricky tacticians and not trustworthy.