All traces of Hong Kong English language newspaper the South China Morning Post have been wiped from social media platforms in China.
The SCMP’s Weibo accounts on both Tencent and Sina were eliminated, with the original links redirecting to an error page. There are also no posts visible on its WeChat page. The paper’s Chinese-language site, nanzao.com, however, remains accessible according to blockedinchina.net.
The paper’s disappearance from Chinese social media came weeks after Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to tighten control over the news in China, saying that “state media must be surnamed Party.”
A screenshot of what was rumoured to be SCMP’s “last post” from its Sina Weibo account was captured by a Twitter user. The post said that human rights lawyer Yuan Yulai would be suing local authorities for confiscating Taiwanese and Hong Kong books he bought online from Taobao.
南华早报的官微竟然也被销号了…… 这是它临终前最后一条 pic.twitter.com/n61nA4rcPg
— langzichn (@langzichn) March 8, 2016
Prior to the removal, both SCMP and its Chinese site had been covering the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and the National People’s Congress annual sessions in China. The daily also ran exclusives on the missing publishers saga this week, while nanzao.com gave more moderate coverage of the Causeway Bay bookstore controversy.
Alibaba takeover pending
Although it was announced in December that Alibaba’s Jack Ma would be buying the paper and its media assets, the deal has yet to go through.
In an interview following the deal’s announcement, Executive Vice-chairman of Alibaba Group Joseph Tsai said the company will not influence the century-old newspaper’s China coverage, saying that it should be balanced and fair. However, he also criticised mainstream western media for reporting on China with a “tainted” view.