China’s censors are blocking photos and reports of a car crash that killed five and injured 38 others in Tiananmen Square today, reports the Washington Post. Hundreds of posts have been pulled, it says, according to FreeWeibo, a site that presents an uncensored version of the popular Chinese social network Sina Weibo. Web searches for “Tiananmen car accident” and reports from media outlets are also reportedly blocked, with only a single report of the crash being broadcast on China’s state-owned news agency.
That China has been quick to block reports of the crash should be unsurprising given its history of strict internet censorship. According to the Post, this isn’t the first time that China has censored reports from Tiananmen Square in recent history either: in 2009, no Chinese media outlet reported on a protester who set himself on fire in the square.
Beyond being the site of the iconic Tank Man photo, the Post reports that Tiananmen Square remains a focal site for protesters and tourists in China, and is carefully guarded. That association and the history of the site has led some Sina Weibo users to speculate that the car crash was actually an instance of protest through self-immolation — many such posts have since been removed from the network.
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