Friday, January 17, 2014

China's Weibos Censor Posts That Go Against Propaganda Narrative of Xi Jinping's Baozi Shop Visit

On December 30, 2013, the state-sponsored Global Times published an article entitled “Xi Impresses With Steamed Bun Lunch.” Some excerpts:
President Xi Jinping's surprise visit to a fast food eatery in Beijing has drawn unprecedented attention over the past weekend, which shored up his everyman image that had rarely been seen among top-level Chinese officials in the past.

Blurred photos of Xi queuing at a restaurant, holding his own plates and dining at a table were posted online by Net users on Saturday afternoon, and soon went viral.

It was soon identified that Xi had paid a spontaneous visit to a downtown branch of Qing-Feng Steamed Dumpling Shop and had his lunch there at noon on Saturday, after his visit to a heating supply company and nursing home in Beijing earlier that day.

Given no official media accompanied the president during his surprise visit to the eatery, all the photos and videos were taken by diners with their cellphones.
These screenshots show that on January 2, 2014, all search results for “Who is Behind the Four Seas Weibo Account That Publicized Xi Jinping Eating Baozi” (习近平包子背后的四海微传播是谁) had had disappeared.

On January 3, 2014, the state-sponsored China Daily published an article entitled “Xi Shows Common Touch.” According to the report:
Diners at the Qingfeng steamed bun restaurant will never forget the day when Chinese President Xi Jinping unexpectedly dropped in to dine at the restaurant. Since Xi's visit, business has been booming at all of the Qingfeng chain restaurants, and the 21-yuan ($3.46) combo meal Xi ordered, now called the "President Xi Jinping combo," is in high demand.
The report also included this graphic showing Weibo connecting Xi’s visit with cracking down on corruption.
Source: China Daily
 These screenshots show that on January 7, Sina Weibo posts containing images showing people protesting in front of the Baozi shop made famous by Xi were disappearing.

These screenshots were taken on January 15, and show that Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo were censoring searches for "Xi Put On a Show" (习 作秀).