Saturday, April 27, 2013

2013 Sichuan Earthquake: Web Sites Censor Reporting and Discussion of Party Official's Wristwatch Tan Line

On April 23, 2013, the state-sponsored Global Times published an article entitled "Lushan Official Just in Time for Scandal." An excerpt:
A Lushan county official found himself at the center of controversy on April 23 after sleuthing netizens noticed in online photos that he had taken off his luxury watch while leaders from the central government visited the quake-shaken area in Sichuan Province.
A photo taken of Fan Jiyue, party leader of Lushan county, while accompanying Premier Li Keqiang overseeing quake-relief work on April 21, revealed visible tan lines on Fan's left wrist. Web users assumed that Fan had secretly taken off his expensive watch before he met with the Premier.
These screenshots, taken on April 22, show that Sina Weibo was censoring searches for "Fan Jiyue" (范继跃) and "Lushan County Party Secretary" (芦山县委书记).

These screenshots show that Tencent Weibo began censoring searches for "Fan Jiyue" some time between April 23 and April 24.

These screenshots show that the moderator(s) of Baidu's "Fan Jiyue" PostBar (Tieba 贴吧) forum deleted several posts showing the image of Fan's missing watch.

 This screenshot, taken on April 23, shows that an article entitled "Lushan Country Party Secretary's Wristwatch Tan Line Earns Him Nickname 'No Watch Brother'" (芦山县委书记手腕表印引关注 被称“无表哥”) has been removed from Tencent's web site and replaced with a 404 error page.

Original URL:

These screenshots, taken on April 27, show that both Sina and Tencent were censoring weibo searches for "No Watch Brother," but not for "Watch Brother."