Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Sina Weibo Censors "Our Lhasa is on the Verge of Destruction"

On May 13, 2013, the official Communist Party mouthpiece the People's Daily published an article on page four of its hard copy edition entitled "Lhasa's Old Town 'Big Demolition Big Construction' False (For Confirmation - See the Truth Behind the Uproar" (拉萨老城“大拆大建”不实(求证·探寻喧哗背后的真相)). Some excerpts:
On May 4, a Weibo claimed "Our Lhasa is on the Verge of Destruction! Please, Save
Lhasa!" It also posted a photo of "big demolition big construction," and criticized the excessive commercialization of Lhasa's old town. 
Is there any truth to the claims of large scale demolition of the cultural relics and buildings in the old town? Is Lhasa becoming overly commericialized? The People's Daily's investigative journalists took these questions the heart of the Lhasa old town - Bakuo Street District - for in-depth research to "seek proof." 
. . . . 
Lhasa city conducted surveys regarding the protective construction of the old town which found 96% of residents supported it and 91% of small retailers understood the need to relocate their stands. 
The heart of this construction is to better protect the style and features of Lhasa's ancient city, protection and renovation work includes the protection of historic buildings, the renovation of traditional buildings, reforming the appearance of new structures and installing energy saving doors and windows in people's homes." According to Wang Jian, chief architect at the Tianjin Housing Construction Appraiser Design Institute, planning departments have undertaken large scale surveys of structures in the old town, and at the same time have invited many Tibet architecture experts to provide guidance throughout the process in order to achieve genuine "renovate the old as if it were the old." 
. . . .

These screenshots were taken on May 12, 2013, and show a search on Sina Weibo for:
  • "Our Lhasa" (我们的拉萨) returns 12 results.
  • "Lhasa is on the Verge of Destruction" (拉萨快被毁了) returns 1 result.
  • "Our Lhasa is on the Verge of Destruction" (我们的拉萨快被毁了) returns no results, just a censorship notice.
Below, the left-hand screenshots show Baidu cached versions of two blogs on Sina.com.cn which posted an article entitled “Our Lhasa is on the Verge of Destruction! Please, Save Lhasa!” by Woeser (唯色) on May 7 and May 9. The right-hand screenshots were taken on May 13, and show that both posts had been deleted.