The phrase “take off one’s clothes” has reportedly been censored on Chinese social media after China’s President Xi Jinping made a slip-up in a speech during the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Hangzhou.

In a speech to the Business 20 (B20) summit on Saturday on the global economy, Xi said the phrase “take off one’s clothes” instead of “ease agricultural policy.”

Xi Jinping during the B20 speech. Photo: Screenshot.

Quoting from an ancient Chinese text, President Xi was supposed to say “lighten the tariffs, straighten the roads, facilitate trade, and ease agricultural policy.” But because the simplified Chinese characters for clothes and agriculture look very similar, the phrase became “kuanyi” instead of “kuannong.”

A search for “kuanyi” on Chinese social media Weibo returned only two irrelevant results, while a search on censorship watchdog site Free Weibo returned two posts relating to the gaffe that were removed. The four character phrase for “facilitate trade and take off one’s clothes” could not be sent on Chinese messaging app WeChat, though “kuanyi” could be sent.

Ming Pao journalist Pang Jiaoming tweeted: “Within the wall, the media people who were the first to make fun of “kuanyi” have already been questioned and criticised. His statement has already been directly shared via screenshots by lazy people. Hopefully there won’t be worse consequences. These words that were spoken in broad daylight were heard by the whole world – there was no one who was the first to hear it.”

The “wall” refers to China’s online censorship infrastructure known as the “Great Firewall.”

Cartoonist Badiucao published a cartoon of a Xi in his underwear on a neon sign saying “facilitate trade and take off ones’ clothes.”

“I think he means something like this…” he tweeted.

Catherine Lai

Catherine is a Canadian journalist and photographer who lived in Beijing for almost two years, working in TV and online media. Aside from Hong Kong and mainland affairs, she is also interested in urban spaces, art and feminism. She holds a BA in Literature and Art History from the University of British Columbia.