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China purges a Tiananmen Square massacre ghost from the Asian Games coverage

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(, Oct04’23) – China appears to have censored a photograph of two Chinese hurdlers embracing after a race because their lane numbers accidentally formed a reference to the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989, reported, and other major news outlets Oct 4.

The image captures Lin Yuwei, from lane 6, and Wu Yanni, in lane 4, hugging following the women’s 100m hurdles final at the Asian Games in Hangzhou. Lin had won the gold medal.

As they stood together, stickers attached to their shorts showing their lane numbers formed “6 4”, a pairing widely seen as a reference to Jun 4, 1989.

That day Chinese military tanks rolled into the capital Beijing to carry out a bloody crackdown to clear students and others protesting for democracy and against corruption on the Tiananmen Square.

Beijing tightly controls references to the event, scrubbing all mention of it from the internet within China, and moving quickly to erase any reference to it on social media, including even seemingly innocuous moments when the numbers 6, 4 and 89 appear together and are entirely unrelated to Tiananmen.

As a result, generations of younger Chinese have grown up with little to no knowledge about the Tiananmen Square massacre, noted the report.

State broadcaster CCTV originally posted the photograph on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like social media service, on Oct 1 night, but removed it from its account about an hour later, said the CNN report.

The photograph cannot be found on Baidu, China’s popular search engine, while Google services are blocked in the country, the report added.

What is more, the image can be seen in an article published Oct 2 by state news agency Xinhua but the numbers have been cropped out of the photo.

Users had posted on Weibo, one of China’s biggest social media platforms, congratulating Ms Lin. However, posts which included the photo were replaced with grey squares, noted the report.


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