The Chinese character "nan," meaning "difficult," was voted the word of the year for 2021 by mainland and Taiwan netizens in an annual newspaper poll.
The character earned the most votes out of a total of 16 million in an online poll from Nov. 21 to Dec. 8, Taiwan-based newspaper Want Daily announced at a ceremony in Taipei on Thursday.
The poll was jointly organized by several media organizations, including Want Daily and Fujian-based Sun News.
The winning word beat the 35 other candidates that had been recommended by high-profile figures across the Taiwan Strait.
Speaking at the official ceremony via video link, Chen Weiming, president and editor-in-chief of Sun News, said the winning word "nan" has rich meanings and demonstrates a common sentiment of people across the Strait.
It signifies the difficulty of humankind's fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, explained Chen, calling for joint efforts to build a better future.
Recalling his experience in facilitating cross-Strait exchange, Chang Pen-Tsao, chairman of the Business Development Foundation of the Chinese Straits, said that he faced difficulties but also saw many opportunities.
"I hope both sides of the Strait will put the interests of the Chinese nation first and promote the cross-Strait exchange steadily," Chang added.
The event has been held annually since 2008. The character "men," which means "depressed," was last year's pick.
The event is a reminder for the people across the Strait that they speak the same language, revere the same ancestors and share similar responsibilities to carry on the Chinese cultural tradition, said Chen Yi'an, head of the federation of literary art circles of Haicang District, Xiamen City.