North Korea’s leader paid a surprise visit to China -- his first foreign trip since he assumed power -- and Weibo lit up with the hashtag “Xi Jinping meets Kim Jong-un”.

As people flocked to the microblog platform to discuss the historic event, censors kicked into high gear. Users were allowed to leave comments under news articles -- but only a select few (all of them positive) were displayed.

Users in China often use coded terms to bypass censorship -- such as referring to the North Korean leader as Fatty Kim the Third -- 金三胖 (Kim Jong-un is the third leader of North Korea following his father and grandfather). But if you searched for that nickname on Weibo or search engine Baidu, you wouldn’t be able to find anything.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Chinese president Xi Jinping meet in Beijing on March 28, 2018 (Picture: Xinhua via AP)

Other search terms that were blocked this week include:

  • Kim the Third Pig (金三猪)
  • Fatty the Third (三胖子)
  • Fatty Kim Two Plus One (金二加一胖)
  • Prosperous Fat (鑫胖) -- where the character 鑫 consists of three 金, which means Kim
  • Fatty on the train
  • Xi Fat (习胖) -- referring to Chinese president Xi Jinping, who’s been compared to Winnie the Pooh
  • Xi Pig (习猪)

China’s foreign ministry has said before that it is against making fun of world leaders. The country’s authorities are rarely amused by political jokes or what they view as flippant takes on serious matters. Earlier this month, a reporter’s dramatic eye-roll during a government minister’s interview prompted censors to take action -- search results for her name were taken down on social media.

Kim Jong-un and Xi Jinping with first ladies Ri Sol-ju (left) and Peng Liyuan (Picture: KCNA)

Other names are censored simply because they’re too sensitive. The South China Morning Post reports that some people in China praised the fashion of North Korean first lady Ri Sol-ju during her Beijing visit. But censors jumped in anyway: Weibo banned searches for her name, while Baidu only displayed old articles about her.