Now you see Guo Wengui, now you don’t on Chinese social media


Social media in China and overseas lit up briefly after Interpol issued a red notice on Tuesday for the arrest of businessman Guo Wengui for alleged corruption.

But censors appeared to quickly take control on the Chinese mainland, limiting comment and content on the story.

On one of the country’s most popular social media platforms Weibo, a search for Guo’s Chinese name still showed several news stories on Thursday morning.

The top trending item was an article by state broadcaster CCTV confirming the red notice had been issued. The report was shared about 950 times, gleaning 46 comments and was “liked” 1,872 times.

But of those comments, only three were accessible and none were intelligible.

Guo’s curtailed interview on Wednesday with US broadcaster Voice of America also dominated discussions on social media platform WeChat, but the debate soon cooled., a website that monitors censored posts on Weibo, listed Guo as top of its hot topics of censored searches.

Weiboscope, a University of Hong Kong project that tracks censorship on the platform, also listed a photo of Guo among its top nine censored photos.

But one article about the tycoon seemed to have to have evaded the censors and attracted a wide readership on the mobile phone application of news website

A story by the state-run Beijing News heavily criticising Guo had more than 100,000 comments by Wednesday lunchtime.

The article delved into his past and quoted people who used to work with him questioning his character and honesty.

Readers expressed shock about the allegations, with many calling for his arrest and even that he be given the death penalty.

“I support the party’s anti-corruption drive … He must be given a heavy sentence upon arrest,” one commenter from Shijiazhuang, Hebei province, said.

Outside mainland China’s censorship, searches for “Guo Wengui” on Google Trends on Thursday peaked after his VOA interview was cut short.

There was also a spike in interest in the story after Interpol announced it had issued a red notice for his arrest on Tuesday. Google Trends is a research tool used to compare the popularity of search terms online. Google does not release detailed figures for searches.

By Mimi Lau



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