The People's Daily is the main state-owned newspaper of China's communist party, and everyone was pretty psyched about the paper's new Beijing headquarters. The building is massive, imposing, and, uh, currently shaped like a colossal penis. Now, as construction workers try to finish the engineering, the country's censors are working overtime to stop Chinese people on social media from laughing at the expense of the very paper in charge of controlling the country's message. According to The International Business Times, the nearly 500-foot tower won't be finished until this time next year, but the war on mocking it has already begun.
You see, China likes its censorship — remember when the country censored Men in Black 3 for talking about the country's censors? — and the government tries to have nearly as tight a grip on its Internet free speech as it does on its newspaper headlines. Back in December, China passed a law that would allow the government to delete online messages deemed "illegal." The communist censors even have control over monitoring Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, effectively controlling what goes viral — even "Gangnam Style.". So, yeah, making fun of that thing up there on social media wasn't going fly, especially since it was the new home of the state-run media.
Agence France Presse is reporting that censors on Weib are cracking down on the People's Daily toilet humor. The IB Times adds:
A search on Sina Weibo for “People’s Daily” and “building” results in a message that says the keywords have been blocked “in accordance with relevant laws, regulations and policies, search results cannot be displayed”.
Of course, some clever Weibo users have snuck around the censors by way of the double entendre. "It seems the People's Daily is going to rise up, there’s hope for the Chinese dream," reads one message that got through filters, according to the AFP. Another: "Of course the national mouthpiece should be imposing."
And then you have papers like The Times of India, with (unintentionally funny?) introductions to their architecture stories: "The new 150-meter tall headquarters of the People's Daily, the main organ of the Communist Party...." And then you have this: As the blog HugChina reported last month, a rather unfortunate nickname for the paper emerged right after the first photos of the construction site surfaced, before the censors stepped in:
People’s Daily (人民日报) has long been called Raping People Daily (日人民报) by Chinese netizens for chronically misleading the people with false reports. It was understood that the propagandists in Beijing do not like this nickname, but that they chose the bizarre design of the new headquarters reveals that it may not necessarily be so.
troll man who designed the People's Daily HQ is architecture professor Zhou Qi, the IB Times reports. And you know what's sort of funny? Not only did he beat out at least four architecture firms to construct this penis-shaped behemoth, but he's actually commented on China's penchant for mocking its suggestive architectural landmarks before. For example, this thing below is called the "Gate of the Orient," which was mocked from inside China last year for looking like underwear:
Ridiculed because it looks like pair of underpants new Gate of Orient in China, askyscraper that's joined at the top. twitter.com/DanLewisNews/s…— Dan Lewis (@DanLewisNews) September 4, 2012
At the time — before it was known that he was building the competition's phallus — China Daily, the English-language paper of state record in China, consulted with Qi about the underpants design:
"But the professor also said big projects like this, especially landmarks in city centers, can avoid such controversy if the public is properly consulted in advance.
"Public involvement in decisions on major architecture projects in China remains very low," Zhou said.
Censors don't make that public involvement any easier, now do they?
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.