Chinese Urban Dictionary: Ditupao

By Mia Li, May 16, 2017

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Ditupao / dìtúpào / 地图炮  v. judging or discriminating against individuals or groups purely based on where they are from; stereotyping

A. People who live in Guomao are soulless money grabbers.

B. Why are you firing ditupao on Guomao?

A. Because I live in the Gulou area for the purpose of feeling superior. 

B. You are the victim of your own ditupao. 

‘Where are you from?’ is often the first thing we ask when we’re trying to learn more about someone. However, for some folks, it is the only question needed to work you out.

From Henan? You’re a liar and a cheat. From Guangdong? You must eat every animal under the sun. From Dongbei? You must only do business through shady connections. From Beijing? You must love talking about politics and telling tall tales. Sichuan? Quite the temper. Yunnan? Good at singing and dancing but probably can’t read. Inner Mongolia? How many dairy cows do you have? San Francisco? Gay! New York? Coastal elite in a liberal bubble. 

Literally meaning ‘map cannon,’ ditupao is the act of attacking individuals or groups based purely on where they are from. It’s the figurative act of shooting a map with a cannon and indiscriminately ‘killing’ all in the given region. 

In a homogenized society like China’s, you can’t blame people for assuming homogeny among those who grew up in the same place. If you are from Henan, you may expect different social norms than someone from Guangdong. If you are from Dongbei, you may have a higher tolerance for guanxi than someone from Shanghai. 

But as various parts of the country – and the world – become more integrated, stereotyping becomes increasingly problematic. The province Henan suffers so much from ditupao that its workers are routinely discriminated against by employers due to their ‘reputation’ for dishonesty. 

Another thing about ditupao is this: Cannons can be fired at any point on any map, no matter the size and no matter how near or far the magnification. For example, you can aim your cannon at a part of the country (Shanghai? Stingy and calculating!), zoom in and aim at a district of Shanghai (Pudong? Tuhao!), and then zoom way out and aim at half the world (you’re from the Southern hemisphere? Lazy!).

A common joke goes: “There are two kinds of people I hate: those who fire ditupao and those who are from Anhui.” I know we are all tempted to simplify things by saying “I'll never deal with those from Henan again,” but humans are best not reduced to dots on a map. 

201705/201705-chinese-urban-dictionary-full.jpgRead more Chinese Urban Dictionary

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