David Barboza, the Shanghai Bureau Chief of The New York Times, won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for international reporting for exposing the wealth amassed by the extended family of former premier Wen Jiabao. The report, which tackles head-on the politically sensitive topic of corruption by high-level officials, led the Chinese government to block Web access to both the English and Chinese versions of the New York Times entirely.
On Sina Weibo, China's Twitter, a popular user with the handle "Pretending to be in New York" (@ 假装在纽约) posted the following comment on April 15th, the day the Pulitzer Prizes were announced:
The Pulitzer Prize for reporting just released: the New York Times claims four awards, one of which was awarded for that well-known China-related report. That piece won the prize for international reporting.
Although the user was careful to avoid mentioning Wen Jiabao's hidden family assets, Chinese censors apparently found it unacceptable nonetheless. Within 24 hours, the tweet was swept clean off of Weibo.
Tea Leaf Nation collected some of the comments the thread gathered before its deletion. Though few, and perhaps not fully representative, they provide a brief insight into Chinese online reaction to this topic.
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Some Web users saw the incident as an American conspiracy to undermine Chinese leadership through news reporting. "China is resolutely opposed to any country, any person, using the Pulitzer journalism prize to interfere with China's internal affairs and defile its former leaders," commented @小子子懒到死. "This is definitely an American imperialist [conspiracy]," wrote @ 鸟博9.