According to a recent report by Taiwanese news site NewTalk, there was a recent surge of search volume for the word “emigrate” on China’s top social media network WeChat. Volume surged by 1,156 percent, with an astonishing 510 million searches in one day. A few days later, the term “emigrate” (移民, also translated as “migrate”) was directly deleted from the WeChat Index, demonstrating China’s authoritarian control and the fear it has of its own people.
WeChat’s search index, based on big data collected by the company, represents the change in popularity of a certain keywords on WeChat. As early as when China first implemented the Zero Covid policy, many people began searching for terms related to emmigration, and the keyword’s popularity in WeChat increased rapidly, exceeding 100 million searches. Later during the White Paper Protests near the end of 2022, people’s desire for physical mobility became even stronger, with the WeChat Index recording 116 million searches. China’s economic difficulties have led to more and more Chinese people being dissatisfied with their living conditions.
Although the Chinese authorities attempted to remove terms related to migration from the supported vocabulary of WeChat’s hot-search system, this amounts to nothing more than an act of self-deception; the population’s dissatisfaction with the government will not disappear just because the word “emigrate” has been deleted from the search index.
Source: Newtalk, October 25, 2023