Reporter Resigns After Censoring SCMP Post

Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post’s (SCMP) interview with Alibaba CEO Jack Ma last week caused an uproar: according to the interview, Ma compared difficult leadership choices he has made to Deng Xiaoping’s decision in June 1989 to break up street protests with military force (as translated by the Wall Street Journal):

“As the country’s highest decision maker he demanded stability, he needed to make this kind of cruel decision,” Mr. Ma said [according to SCMP]. “This wasn’t a perfect decision, but it was the most correct decision, at the time it was the most correct decision. No matter when it is, a leader needs to make this kind of decision. Anyone could fool around and choose to not decide, but that’s not management.” [Source]

Ma claims the SCMP misrepresented his words. Further controversy ensued when the paper found that Liu Yi, the reporter who interviewed Ma, changed the wording of the interview on SCMPChinese.com after the final copy had already been approved by the editors. SCMP suspended Liu and has begun an investigation into her conduct. Liu resigned on July 19. SCMP has issued a statement in both Chinese and English:

On July 13th, 2013, reporter Liu Yi submitted an article for an interview with Jack Ma which was published by SCMPChinese.com.

After a period of time and without authorisation, she accessed the system and replaced the editor-approved article with an altered version in which Mr Ma’s reference made in relation to June 4th was removed.

Given this alteration’s departure from our interview recording, the original article was reinstated immediately following discovery of discrepancy.

Liu Yi has since been suspended from work for making unauthorised alterations to company property. A full disciplinary enquiry was instigated.

Liu Yi however chose to resign on July 19th, 2013, while the investigation is still ongoing. Notwithstanding, the South China Morning Post continues to stand by the original article.

SCMP will continue with our in-house inquiry as with all cases relating to professional discipline. [Source]

The Chinese version of this statement [zh] has been removed from Sina Weibo.

As of July 20, the following search terms are blocked on Sina Weibo (not including the “search for user” function).

  • South China (Morning Post)+Jack Ma (南华(早报)+马云)
  • South China+editors’ statement (南华+编辑部声明)
  • South China+Liu Yi (南华+刘怡)
  • Jack Ma+Six Four (马云+六四): June 4, 1989 is often referred to as “Six Four.”
  • Jack Ma+64 (马云+64)
  • Jack Ma+ Eight Nine (马云+八九): “Eight Nine” stands for 1989.
  • Jack Ma+89 (马云+89)

Alternate renderings of “64″ and “89,” such as 六四 and 八九, are not individually blocked from search results.

All Chinese-language words are tested using simplified characters. The same terms in traditional characters occasionally return different results.

Browse all of CDT’s collected sensitive words in this bilingual Google spreadsheet.

CDT Chinese runs a project that crowd-sources filtered keywords on Sina  search. CDT independently tests the keywords before posting them, but some searches later become accessible again. We welcome readers to contribute to this project so that we can include the most up-to-date information. To add words, check out the form at the bottom of CDT Chinese’s latest sensitive words post.

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