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Internet in the People's Republic of China

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If 2011 was the year social media arrived as a force in Chinese culture and politics, then 2012 was the year social media supercharged one of contemporary China’s finest forms of cultural and political expression: the Internet meme.

To be sure, the Chinese Internet has been a fertile producer of memes for quite some time. One of 2011’s great Internet moments — the Ministry of Railways spokesman’s haughty and ultimately career-ending effort to explain the burial of passenger cars after a deadly high-speed train crash in Wenzhou — is still going strong a year and a half later. And of course there’s 2009’s “grass mud horse,” which appears destined for immortality (and even a modicum of global cross-over) after being adopted by dissident artist Ai Weiwei.

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