The following censorship instructions, issued to the media by government authorities, have been leaked and distributed online. The name of the issuing body has been omitted to protect the source.
The giant stone tablet, inscribed with the magnified handwriting of former president Jiang Zemin, split in two and tumbled from its pedestal in the early morning. No injuries were reported, but traffic was partially blocked on the six-mile bridge.
Netizens nostalgic for the former leader’s unrefined manners affectionately call Jiang “the toad.” Some have taken the tablet’s breakage as an ill omen: in a deleted Weibo comment captured by FreeWeibo, user Linjieling (@林杰灵) calls it “frightening and inauspicious.” Rumors of Jiang’s death have circulated online in the past, as has speculation that Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign is at odds with Jiang’s inner circle.
Updated at 13:00 PST on March 2, 2016: Some netizens have made a tongue-in-cheek interpretation of this incident, echoing the idea of the “mandate of heaven.” During China’s long dynastic period, natural disasters were thought to signal that the current ruler had lost the mandate and should be overthrown. When the tablet fell in Xiamen, the split went through the character da 大, an “omen” of Xi Jinping’s undoing, since Xi’s populist nickname is “Daddy Xi” (Xi Dada 习大大). Jiang Zemin’s signature, in the lower righthand corner of the tablet, remains intact, supposedly indicating that the former president will stay safe. As Weibo user Hongchenkezhan-yuanzui (@红尘客栈-原罪) puts it, “The dedicator remains unharmed, while the character da 大 broke in two.”
Since directives are sometimes communicated orally to journalists and editors, who then leak them online, the wording published here may not be exact. The date given may indicate when the directive was leaked, rather than when it was issued. CDT does its utmost to verify dates and wording, but also takes precautions to protect the source.