According to the New York Times, “The Grass-Mud Horse” is a mythical creature whose name in Chinese sounds like “fuck your mother”. These horses face a problem: invading river crabs that are devouring their grassland. In spoken Chinese, river crab sounds very much like harmony, which in Chinas cyberspace has become a synonym for censorship. Censored bloggers often say their posts have been harmonized — a term directly derived from President Hu Jintaos regular exhortations for Chinese citizens to create a harmonious society.
While grass-mud horse sounds like a nasty curse in Chinese, its written Chinese characters are completely different, and its meaning —taken literally — is benign. Thus, the beast has dodged the Chinese governments efforts to censor information over the Internet that is seditious or inflammatory.
Xiao Qiang, an adjunct professor of journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, said that the grass-mud horse is an icon of resistance to censorship.