Crazy news from Peter Foster at The Telegraph, who uncovered a self-immolation in Tiananmen that took place… three weeks ago! How could this happen without anyone finding out? As he puts it:
The picture shows several hundred people who must have also witnessed what happened after Mr Wang, a 42-year-old man from Huanggang in Hubei, set himself on fire in protest at a court judgment that, we must presume, he felt was so unfair his only recourse was to self-immolate.
Perhaps some people did register the incident on their Weibo accounts but, as is common, they were deleted by the “net nannies” who police online discussion spaces with the same zeal that plain-clothes officers police Tiananmen Square, snuffing out dissent at the first possible sign.
As the power and prevalence of Weibo grows, it has become increasingly difficult for the authorities to suppress unwanted and unpalatable news, as has been seen this year over protests in Dalian, with the “Barefoot lawyer” Chen Guangcheng and over the Wenzhou rail disaster.
But as this incident shows, they also succeed, and in the nature of that suppression, it is impossible to know the ratio of successes to failures.
Ironically the Chinese government is in the midst of a major crackdown on “false rumours” on the internet, and yet this kind of story, when it emerges, is exactly why no one believes the government or officialdom in China, and why rumours have such currency.