Chinese Government Shuts Down SCMP on Social Media

In its steadfast efforts to regulate all media, the Chinese government’s censors have shut down the South China Morning Post’s accounts on Sina Weibo, Tencent Weibo, and WeChat.

All content previously posted on the Hong Kong-based paper’s WeChat account has been deleted. Visits to its pages on Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo will stop at error messages. One reads the following, “Sorry, there is something wrong with the account you are currently trying to access, and it is temporarily inaccessible.”

Judging by the Chinese government’s previous strikes against websites, these accounts may remain permanently inaccessible.

All three accounts posted updates from the Chinese-language, which is blocked on the mainland.

SCMP had made a lot of noise on Weibo. In 2015, its Sina Weibo account won The Star of Weibo awards for the second consecutive year.

“The SCMP has adhered to our professionalism and journalistic conduct in a complicated media environment, and through various social media platforms reached out to readers from around the world,” said Chinese Chief Editor William Zheng after the victory.

The SCMP’s overall journalistic integrity, however, has been challenged in the last few years.

In 2012, Wang Xiangwei acquired the title of editor-in-chief.  Wang was a Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference member. He was also a former employee of the state-run China Daily. That summer, his own staff accused him of reducing a breaking story about the suspicious death of a Tiananmen Square dissident to a brief.

He later attributed the move to a bad call, but refused to say it was an act of self-censorship.

In 2015, the paper was bought out by the Alibaba Group. The conglomerate is run by Jack Ma, a businessman with well-known ties to the government leadership.

Recently, President Xi Jinping visited media outlets throughout the country. He called for the media to give the “correct guidance of public opinion” by “singing the main theme” and “transmitting positive energy.”

It seems the Chinese government is making strides in the digital front when it comes to the war on freedom of expression.


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