“Catch 22” in ChinaPosted: May 19, 2014
A Chinese website, Tea Leaf Nation, reported last week that the Western term “Catch 22” has taken hold in the culture. A recent search on Baidu, China’s largest search engine, found more than 4.9 million mentions of “Catch 22,” which in Chinese literally translates “military rule clause 22.’” The term was coined by Joseph Heller in his enduring World War II novel of the same name. Google reports 625 million citations worldwide.
Two examples: In 2010, in Kunming, the local government released a regulation that forbade employers from hiring migrants who did not hold a residency permit there. But to obtain the permit, a migrant was first required to hold a steady job. Responding to public outcries, newspapers published stories with headlines such as “Does Kunming have its own version of Catch-22?”
In March, Xinhua, the Communist Party’s official wire service, ridiculed public officials and labeled a government policy “a Catch-22-style ruse” in an editorial.