Five Health-Hazard Jokes Going Around in China Right Now

The Chinese relieve the anxiety triggered by pollution scares and avian flu by circulating jokes and cartoons on the Web

Five Health-Hazard Jokes Going Around in China Right Now
A spoof movie poster from artist Dashixiong

Editor’s Note: SARS hit the Pearl River Delta hard, while bird flu is now hitting the Yangtze River Delta.

China’s government has scant tolerance for political dissent on the Internet, scrubbing criticism of top leaders and the Party, for example. And if it thinks rumors on the Web will be socially destabilizing, the country cracks down quickly. So as the spread of bird flu, also known as H7N9, fans fears of a pandemic, authorities have detained people for spreading rumors of new outbreaks around the country.

When it comes to indirect barbs and black humor, however, the censors often simply ignore them. We culled a handful of jokes posted recently on micro-blogging service Sina Weibo that deal with China’s health and environmental perils. Ha ha?

A day in the life

You get up early and buy two gutter oil-fried dough sticks, a poison egg, and have a cup of melamine milk. At lunch, enjoy some Clenbuterol-tainted pork with fried pesticides leeks. Your boss doesn’t give you a raise, but you have to be strong and keep living, because … the cost of graves keeps going up!

Shanghai vs. Beijing

The Beijinger proudly says: “We are the most fortunate: We only have to open the window and we get free smokes.” The Shanghainese quickly retorts: “What’s so special about that? We turn on the tap water and get pork rib soup!”

Heads you win, tails I lose

Question: How do I guard against smog?
Expert: Stay at home as much as possible and don’t open the window.
Question: How do I prevent avian flu?
Expert: Open the window often for ventilation … damn! Either way, we are dead.

Air and water

The two best ways to safeguard against bird flu: 1) drink a lot of water; 2) keep the air flowing. People living in Shanghai, please ignore No. 1. People living in Beijing, please ignore No. 2.

The more things change …

SARS 10 years ago, bird flu 10 years later. … The Pearl River Delta 10 years ago, the Yangtze River Delta 10 years later. Delayed action 10 years ago, delayed action 10 years later. False reports 10 years ago, false reports 10 years later. … Experts blathering 10 years ago, experts blathering yet again 10 years later. We saw all of this 10 years ago. Nothing has changed; nothing at all has changed. We have come full circle and ended where we began. We donkeys are so stupid, it’s tragic. Only the virus has changed.

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