Saturday, April 20, 2013

Web Sites Censor News, Discussion of Xi Jinping's Taxi Ride (That Apparently Never Happened)

On the morning of April 18, 2013, several state-sponsored media outlets, including the Global Times and (operated by the State Council's Information Office) published an article entitled "'Taxi, Taxi', for China's Xi Jinping." An excerpt:
Chinese President Xi Jinping decided to take a taxi ride on the evening of March 1 in downtown Beijing and was recognized by the taxi driver whilst chatting together in the car, the Hong Kong-based Ta Kung Pao reports.
The taxi-driver, 46-year-old Guo Lixin, is from Pinggu district in suburban Beijing. Guo, who has been driving his taxi for about 8 years, says he vividly remembers the ride with President Xi.
Guo recalls that it was already dark at about 7:00pm. He had just parked his car near the Gulou (drum tower) west street in Xicheng district for a little while when two male passengers got into his car; one sitting on the passenger seat and the other on the rear seat.
. . . .
Guo's esteemed passenger also said that the government is determined to deal with the issue of pollution and improve people's health, but noted that it takes time to implement all the pollution-control measures and acknowledged that the process has also been prolonged and painful even in the most advanced economies of the world.
At that point, Guo began to notice that the passenger's remarks were unusual for a general member of the public.
These screenshots show that the web sites had removed the story the same day.

Original URLs:

Xinhua also published an article entitled "Xi Jinping's Beijing 'Incognito Private Tour'" (习近平“微服私访”在北京打的) with an image captioned "'Cabbie' Guo Lixin standing in front of his home shown reporters the original 'smooth sailing' note he said was given to him by General Secretary Xi." (“的哥”郭立新在自家门口向记者展示他所称习总为他提写的“一帆风顺”原件。)

These screenshots show that that Xinhua deleted the story the same day.
Original URL:

At 5:30 pm Xinhua published a notice stating that the story was false.

These screenshots show that Sina Weibo began censoring searches for "Incognito Private Tour" (微服私访) on April 18.
These screenshots were taken on April 18, and show additional examples of Weibo censorship relating to the story.
Sina Weibo Censored "Guo Lixin" (郭立新)
Sina Weibo Censored "Smooth Sailing" (一帆风顺)
Sina Weibo Censored "Xi Fake News" (习 假新闻)
Sina Weibo Censored "Xi Taxi" (习 出租车)
Tencent Weibo Censored "Smooth Sailing" (一帆风顺)
Tencent Weibo Censored "Xi Jinping Incognito Private Tour" (习近平