Information Tightly Controlled After Tiananmen Jeep Crash

Global Times’ Jiang Jie and Liu Sha report on the Tiananmen jeep crash which killed five and injured 38 on Monday morning in the heart of :

The driver and two passengers in the jeep were killed at the scene and another two tourists, a woman from the Philippines and a man from Guangdong Province in southern China, died of severe injuries, Beijing police said in a posting on its official microblog account.

Another 38 tourists and police officers, including a male and two female Filipinos and one Japanese man were also injured in the incident. The jeep crashed into a railing of the Jinshui Bridge outside the southern gate of the Forbidden City before bursting into flames at 12:05 pm, police said.

[…] Late on Monday, the police sent a notice to hotels in Beijing, in which hotel management were asked to look out for “suspicious guests” that had visited hotels since October 1. The police also sought information on “suspicious vehicles.”

The police notice said that a “major case had taken place on Monday” and named two residents of Pishan county and Shanshan county of Uyghur Autonomous Region as likely suspects. [Source]

The Los Angeles Times’ Barbara Demick also reported on the “audacious attack” aimed “directly at the bull’s-eye that is the spiritual heart of China“:

Nelson Bunyi, a Filipino tourist who survived the attack with a fractured leg, said he had been on the sidewalk with his wife and two daughters when they spotted the vehicle heading toward them.

“A lot of people were running and jumping, but it was too late for me,” said Bunyi, who was flat on his back in the hospital, oxygen tubes in his nose. “It was a white car and it was coming very, very fast. I fell to the ground. I remember there was smoke, not much else.”

The interview was interrupted when police, who were stationed in the hallway outside the hospital room, said the patient could not be questioned without written permission. [Source]

This was just one of many efforts to enforce an official monopoly on information about the crash. Fei Chang Dao details deletions of news pages and blocks on related Sina Weibo and Baidu searches, while Tea Leaf Nation founder David Wertime described Monday as a “banner day” for China’s censors:

China’s thousands of online censors have been just as speedy — and frighteningly successful, even by their own standards. While some official accounts of the incident have survived online, many seemingly anodyne ones, including updates from mainstream media sources like the business magazine Caijing and newsmagazine China Weekly, have not. In fact, a search on Freeweibo.com, which tracks deleted Weibo posts, shows that many related tweets from widely-followed sources were removed so fast that they were able to generate only a handful of comments. One Weibo user complained, “Just because it’s Tiananmen, all related images have been deleted; is this necessary?” Chinese censors seem to think so, emphasizing rapidity over precision and ensnaring even innocuous posts in their net.

[…] The stakes are particularly high where is concerned. The massive public square in the center of Beijing was the site of the 1989 student uprising and subsequent crackdown, as well as major protests before and since, including the so-called May Fourth Movement in 1919 and, as recently as 2011, self-immolations by disgruntled citizens. [Source]

Beyond the censors’ reach on Twitter, journalists and other observers commented on the incident and its aftermath, including the brief detentions of BBC and AFP reporters, deletion of photographs and the blocking of BBC news broadcasts:


https://twitter.com/stinson/status/394802376193757184

See also CDT’s initial post on the incident.