By Joseph Cheng (程金福) – In an uncharacteristic move, propaganda authorities apparently ordered the removal from the Web yesterday of an editorial from China’s official news agency. The editorial, posted on the Web on August 18, dealt with dirty land deals between local officials and development firms and was Xinhua’s own follow-up on an investigative report appearing in the November 15 edition of Guangdong’s Southern Weekend.
The Southern Weekend report detailed how officials at Guangzhou’s Country Garden (碧桂园), a major development firm some have called “China’s biggest landlord”, had been able to systematically purchase village land at no cost thanks to behind-the-scenes dealings with local leaders across China.
[ABOVE: Screenshot of Xinhua editorial at QQ.com]
The Xinhua editorial, deleted from the agency’s own site and many other portals but still available through QQ.com and Hexun, likened China’s real estate sector to a “stampede of wild horses, negating macroeconomic controls and hopes for home ownership among ordinary people.”
Yesterday, readers clicking the link for the Xinhua editorial at the agency’s official site, or from the Google search page, received the following message: “We’re sorry, but you’ve selected an item that has expired or has already been removed.”
[ABOVE: Message at Xinhuanet saying the Xinhua editorial on land deals has been removed.]
“Watchdog journalism vs. shady land deals“, Joel Martinsen, Danwei.org