'Mars Text', Potential Anti-blockade Tool for China's Internet Users

By Chen Xingman, Central News Agency
December 25, 2007 12:00 am Last Updated: December 25, 2007 12:00 am

“Mars text” is a new online language originating from Taiwanese youngsters that has been giving parents and teachers an endless headache, but bringing hope to bitter Internet users in China who suffer from the Internet blockade set up by Chinese authorities.

“Mars text” is composed of non-formal text symbols. It has no fixed rules and is still in development. Asia Weekly cited several examples of this new language that is in use among young Internet users in China.

For instance, “886” means goodbye, and “THX” means thanks. “3Q, 3Q, I Orz bird 4 u” can be translated as “Thank you, thank you, I fully admire you,” with “Orz” symbolizing a stick figure kneeling on all fours.

Those who don't understand “Mars text” cannot decrypt the emails or text messages sent between elementary and middle school students. According to Xiaoyu, a third-grade student, the purpose of using “Mars text” is to not allow parents and teachers to understand what they are talking about.

Linguists worry that this “Mars text” may undermine the purity of the Chinese language. However, it has given China's Internet users hope of breaking through the Internet blockade.

China has one of the most thorough implementations of an Internet blockade. Anti-communist regime and other sensitive materials are usually rendered inaccessible or unavailable. However, columnists have successfully bypassed the blockade by publishing context-sensitive articles using “Mars text”. “Mars text” is now being used as a new anti-blockade weapon.

Columnist Xiao Shu posted an article entitled “The Internet Holds Power and Reflects the Sorrow of the Media” on the Famous Chinese Blog “ North Wind “. The context-sensitive commentary is posted in “Mars text”. The unreadable codes bypassed China's keyword filtering system, and readers can revert the article to normal text.