Following an announcement made by the Chinese regime that it would pledge another $60 billion in economic aid to African countries, state media in the flood-stricken province of Yunnan ran a layout apparently suggesting its disapproval.
On Sept. 4, the Yunnan Information News published a headline saying “Xi Jinping Envisions a Chinese and African Future,” with a sub-headline that read “China will Provide $60 billion in support to Africa.” Below this text was a prominent photo of villagers in the Yunnan town of Mengdong coping with waist-high floodwaters. It was accompanied by a terse caption: “Aftermath of the flood in Malipo.”
In Yunnan Province, also on Sept. 4, a landslide and flood had forced the closure of six schools in the town of Mengdong, Malipo County. The floods have been affecting the southwest Chinese region for several days. According to the state-run Xinhua News Agency, at least five people have died and 16 others were missing as of Sept. 2.
The juxtaposition of the headlines and the photo led to speculation from Chinese internet users that the layout was an intentional criticism of the largess the Chinese Communist Party reserves for foreign countries, but often denies its own citizens.
Comments posted to the site of Yunnan Information News lauded the state-run outlet for “having a conscience” and called it the “pride of Yunnan.”
Censors soon modified the Yunnan Information News site to remove the sensitive layout. However, print versions of the paper had already been distributed.
A Chinese university student told The Epoch Times that “it’s certain that the media took this opportunity to criticize the government. It’s too obvious. They reported the sad fact that our own government doesn’t care about its people.”
Zeng Ning, a human rights activist in mainland China, said that the actions of Yunnan Information News could be called a “kind of mockery,” or a “silent protest.”
Yunnan Information News was established in 1985, and was formerly known as Yunnan Economic Information News. As of 2007, the Nanfang Media Group and Yunnan Publishing Group owed the company. The calligraphy in the logo of Yunnan Information News was penned by Hu Yaobang, an esrtwhile CCP leader known for his advocacy of political reform.