While emojis are a global phenomenon, each region has tailored their use to reflect its unique culture and sensibilities. For instance, 🥑 in the United States symbolizes being basic, 😇 on Japanese social media implies doomed, and 👍 in the Middle East is not taken positively but rather is seen as an insult.

And China with its vast history and dynamic internet culture, has cultivated an emoji ecosystem unlike any other. Just dive with us into the depths of China's emoji culture, where emojis also can unfold a myriad of funny stories and emotions.

Emoji 'Memes' or 'Gags' of Chinese Culture

Emojis in China aren't just used to enhance a message; they have Internet trends, puns, and even cultural nuances behind them, which transform them into unique symbols that can invoke laughter or deep emotion. And the journey into this digital folklore begins with identifying some classic trending emojis👇.

1. The "🙂" emoji is NOT a genuine smile!

This 🙂 little fellow is globally recognized as the "slightly smiling face." It's mostly used as elsewhere: to convey a mild sense of happiness or contentment. But be careful! More often, it serves as a mocking smile, dripping with irony, or as the "polite-but-maybe-not-so-happy" face. Sometimes, it even hints at anger! It's like tossing out a "wtf are you talking about?" or a sarcastic "REALLY?" when you chat on Chinese social media.

🔺"Sorry babe, got called into work tonight. Gotta cancel our date today😢." "🙂"-Don't be fooled by this smile; your girlfriend is on the brink of being upset. Better think of a way to comfort her RIGHT NOW!

2. 🐂, the Chinese version of 🐐?

Did you know that in China, this sturdy beast isn't just about plowing fields? "牛" (niú) can translate to "awesome" or "impressive." It's similar to how 🐐 (GOAT) is used in English contexts, both pointing to the top-tier folks or the most outstanding actions. So, when someone's being totally cool, in China, they might just be "牛"!

Besides, in Chinese social media, the 🐂 emoji isn't just riding solo. Combos like 🐂🍺, 🐂👍, and 🐂🐝 are popping up so frequently. Think of them as fun ways to say, "You're so bad ass" or "That's awesome!" So, if you see a friend drop a 🐂🍺 in response to your latest post, you've just earned some major props!

🔺In this context, 🐂🍺 conveys admiration for the Chinese team's gold medal achievement🥇.

3. 🥵 You are so hot, even burns me!

Feeling hot and bothered? Well, this flushed face isn't only about the summer heat. On platforms like Weibo or WeChat, it's also got a flirty twist! This flushed face can cheekily hint that you're "hot" (烧)👙 for someone, or that someone is so drop-dead gorgeous, they're practically setting you ablaze. So, if someone drops a 🥵 on your selfie, they might just be saying, "You're sooooo hot" in more ways than one.

🔺In this case, the 🥵 is a vulgar (even nsfw) joke, used to express some kind of intense emotion, and looks like oestrus and online indecency😅.

4. 🤺 Retreat! Retreat! Retreat!

Now, you'd think this fencing action would be all about sports, right? However, as one of the most famous emojis on Chinese social media, the 🤺 emoji has a special meaning that indicates retreat or get away (‘退🤺退🤺退🤺’).

This viral trend originates from an amusing altercation between aPISS OFFstreet vendor and a car owner in 2022. the vendor lady, mid-argument, starts stomping her feet, wielding her hand like she's fencing, and fervently chanting: "退! 退! 退!" (Retreat! Retreat! Retreat!). This quirky act quickly became a hit among users, and an emoji inspired by the incident has since exploded in popularity across online platforms.

🔺It's a funny way to say 'PISS OFF!'.

5. 🍵 Be careful with green tea...

Tea is a significant cultural importance thing in China, and not just in the way you might think. Sure, to many, the 🍵 emoji might just mean a comforting cuppa. But in the world of Chinese digital contexts, it mostly indicates “绿茶(lǜchá)”, and often hints at someone who seems innocent on the surface but is deceptively cunning and manipulative behind the scenes, especially in romantic relationships. It's a bit like calling someone a "conniving bi*ch" in English, but with a side of tea!

🔺Jade (portrayed by Alexandra Daddario) from the TV series 'Why Women Kill', is definitely One of the classic "Green Tea".

Emoji Combos Surely Shine on Chinese Social Media

In the realm of social media, the emergence of emoji combos has unfolded a new layer of communication through. Emojis combined in sequence can create unique meanings, turning them into mini-narratives or expressions:

1. 🌶︎🐔 Not a good word, but...

A chili pepper and a chicken emoji side by side - you'd be forgiven for thinking it represents a spicy dish😋. But not quite! In the world of Chinese internet slang, it's a play on the word "垃圾" (laji), which translates to "trash" or "garbage". When combined these 2 emojis, it’s a cheeky way to call someone a "loser". So, the next time you see these emojis used in tandem, it might not be about food, but a playful (or not-so-playful) jab!

You'll often spot it on social media or in online games, where users deploy it to call someone 'LOSER' or suggest they're terrible at the game🎮.

🔺Here are 2 angry netizens😰

2. 🍌🟢 Hey, relax!

Another emoji wordplay is this 🍌🟢 combo! Just like the chili and chicken combo, here's another pair that's based on phonetics rather than direct representation. The combination of "蕉" (banana) and "绿" (green) sounds eerily similar to "焦虑" (jiāo lǜ), which means "anxious" in English. So, when netizens use the banana and green emojis together, they're not planning a fruity salad but instead signaling that they're feeling pretty anxious.

🔺This user's getting all jittery realizing half of 2023 has zoomed by—and honestly, same here🍌🟢😢!

3. 🍄😋⚰️ Watch out for those brightly-colored mushrooms!

This emoji combo is the emoji version of a children's rhyme from China's Yunnan-Guizhou region: "红伞伞,白杆杆,吃完一起躺板板(Bright red top, with a stark white stem, eat it and you might never wake up again.)" It's a fun way to caution against the hazards of eating wild mushrooms, especially since a vivid red cap can indicate toxicity. While foraging for wild mushrooms is a culinary adventure in this region, netizens love to use these emojis as a playful reminder to tread carefully.

This emoji combo pops up a lot between June and October. After all, it's prime time for wild mushrooms to thrive, but also the peak season for poisonous mushroom incidents😱.

4. 😅🫒🤏 Mind your own business!

For the Chinese youth who love surfing the web, this combo definitely rings a bell. It's the emoji rendition of a popular meme: "Are you Okay? Have some liuliumei."

This meme traces its roots back to a catchy ad line, famously endorsed by the celebrity Yang Mi, for sour plum candied fruit. The original line went something like, "If there is nothing to do, just have some sour plums." It was a lighthearted suggestion to munch on sour plums whenever one had a bit of downtime.

But, you know how the internet works, right? The phrase evolved, now often thrown around as a way to say, "If you've got nothing better to do, just eat something and mind your own business!" It's cheekily used across social media platforms, usually to suggest that someone's making a fuss over nothing or poking their nose where it doesn't belong.

Custom Emoji Memes in Chinese Social Media

One of the standout uses of emojis on several Chinese social media, is that the users will create their own emoji stickers by combining some of the emojis together, to express more delicate emotions or just for fun. This has given birth to countless viral custom stickers, amplifying personal conversations and enhancing the richness of online expression

These emoji memes can be broadly categorized into three types: phonetic puns, modern idiomatic expressions, and original creations. Sometimes it's about meshing different emojis to craft a unique message, and other times it involves deconstructing and reassembling parts of emojis into a brand-new expression (think something along the lines of Google's Emoji Kitchen).

🔺Phonetic Puns: Emojis are mashed up together to represent words or phrases that sound similar.

🔺Modern Idiomatic Expressions: These are fresh takes on traditional or modern sayings or phrases, adapted for the digital age.

🔺Original Creations: These are entirely new expressions created from Chinese internet culture, usually based on real life.

If you're itching to dip your toes into the fun world of emoji memes, swing by our Emoji Maker tool and craft your very own personalized emoji masterpiece! Dive in and let your digital creativity shine! 🎨🤩


Diving into China's emoji world is like exploring a digital amusement park! From trendy emojis that pop up on the internet, to those hilarious pun-combos that make you giggle, and the cool stickers that let everyone be a mini artist. It's clear: Chinese netizens sure know how to have fun with their keyboard. So, the next time you send an emoji, think of the fun stories it might tell on the other side of the world!