Thursday, November 20, 2014

Baidu Censors Information About Political Figure's Suicide (Again)

On November 17, 2014, the website of the Beijing Youth Daily, the official newspaper of the Communist Youth League committee in Beijing, published an article entitled “Hong Kong Media: PLA Navy Deputy Commissar Ma Faxiang Died After Jumping From a Building” (港媒:海军副政委马发祥跳楼身亡). It was deleted within hours.

The Beijing Youth Daily article as cached by Baidu
before it was deleted.
Shortly after the Beijing Youth Daily article was deleted, the China Daily published an article entitled “PLA Navy Deputy Commissar Ma Faxiang Died After Jumping From a Building, Was Engaged in Public Activities Last Month” (海军副政委马发祥跳楼身亡 上月公开活动)

The China Daily article.
These screenshots show that, about the same time the Beijing Youth Daily article was deleted, Baidu began restricting search results for “Ma Faxiang Suicide” (马发祥 自杀) and “Ma Faxiang Jumped” (马发祥 跳楼) to a strict white list of about a dozen website operated by the central government and Communist Party (which includes the China Daily but does not include the Beijing Youth Daily).

Both the China Daily and the Beijing Youth Daily covered similar facts:

  • They based their reporting on a report in Hong Kong’s Ta Kung Pao.
  • Vice Admiral Ma Faxiang was believed to have died after he leapt from a building at a naval complex in Beijing on November 13th.

But the reports differed in several aspects, for example, the China Daily article did not speculate as to why Ma committed suicide. Another article, this one from (which is also on Baidu’s strict white list) speculated that the suicide was the result of “depression.”

The deleted and censored Beijing Youth Daily article, however, said there were rumors that Ma's suicide was directly related to corruption and his having talked to the Central Disciplinary Commission.

This is not the first (or even the second) time that Baidu has censored results about an official committing suicide. For more examples, see this post: After Person Reportedly Commits Suicide Baidu Censors Searches for Their Name (Again)