Friday, August 31, 2012

Flight CA981 Makes Emergency Return, Posts Containing "CA981 Official Flees Abroad" Disappear From Sina Weibo


On August 30, 2012, the state-sponsored People's Daily reported:
An Air China flight heading to New York returned to Beijing last night after "receiving a threatening message." The Boeing 747 - flight CA981- landed at Beijing Capital International Airport at around 8:30pm about eight hours after it had set off for John F. Kennedy Airport.
. . . .
The airport later announced that "nothing abnormal has been found after the overall inspections."
These screenshots were taken between 9:30 am and 2 pm on August 30, and show that a search for "CA981 Official Flees Abroad" (CA981 外逃官员) at 9:30 returned 10 results. For the same search at 12:30 Sina says no search results can be found. Less than ten minutes later Sina now finds one result, but by 2 pm that result has disappeared as well and Sina says it once again cannot find any results.

The final screenshot shows the last post as it appeared at http://weibo.com/1696059701/yzxvIp8YG before it was deleted. It reads:
#China Airlines CA981 Receives Threat Returns to Airport#There's a rumor going around the street stalls that a high level official who was fleeing was arrested and brought back. If there were really dangerous materials on the plane, then it should immediately landed and been inspected, it wouldn't have returned to the busy Beijing airport. If its true that it was really to arrest a fleeing official, then at least it must have been a very senior one.
#国航CA981遭威胁返航# 坊间传闻是高官出逃被抓回来。如果真有危险品在机上,应该立即就近降落排查,不会再返回繁忙的北京机场吧。如果真是为了抓外逃官员,那至少是大佬级别了。
9:30 am
12:30 pm
12:40 pm
2:00 pm

The deleted post shown in the 12:40 pm screenshot