One of our columns is missing (again)

Big Lychee, Various Sectors

After the Asia Society in Hong Kong was found to be barring government critics, attention turned to the NGO’s top benefactor tycoon Ronnie Chan, whose pro-Beijing and anti-democracy views were then highlighted in an online Forbes column, which was swiftly excised from the magazine’s website. (As an aside: one of the banished pro-dems concerned was recently involved in this rather exquisite stunt.)

Now something similar happens to Shirley Yam’s piece in yesterday’s South China Morning Post. Although there was no solid proof, the veteran and highly respected journalist offered plentiful circumstantial evidence that a couple who sound very much like the daughter and son-in-law of China’s emerging number-two Li Zhanshu are up to their ears in what looks very much like a plain old typical Mainland princeling billionaire offshore asset splurge in Hong Kong, right down to the posing-like-idiot-next-to-race-horse thing.

Of course, there could be another woman in Hong Kong called Li Qianxin – the exotic 栗 Li, not the common 李 riffraff – though less fastidious local press happily assert that she is the daughter, and the pair are dropping everything and running back to the mainland, etc.

Shirley Yam, who frequently covers sensitive Mainland/markets-related murk with necessary discretion, chose her words very carefully. Nonetheless, the SCMP pulled the column, issuing a statement feigning shock at a supposed lapse in editorial standards and whining about ‘multiple unverifiable insinuations’. (‘Multiple’ in this situation surely means ‘more convincing’, but anyway…)

This is a bit rich. Lesser SCMP hacks (today, indeed) routinely slander Hong Kong’s pro-democrat politicians with specious United Front smears. The explanation must be that Shirley Yam was getting too close to one of Xi Jinping’s ‘red lines’. Given the book-seller abductions, maybe the SCMP censors are doing her a favour.

Anyway, the offending article is still on-line here, and ‘the vanishing story’ could end up becoming a story in its own right. That’s what happened to the disappearance of the Forbes piece, which Asia Sentinel are the latest to report, complete with offending column in its entirety for the three people on Tierra Del Fuego who still haven’t seen it (plus gratuitous dredging-up of Ronnie Chan’s involvement at Enron, after all these years).

(Update: gone from above link, but spotted here.)

The irony is that if the cringing shoe-shiners hadn’t removed these columns, fewer people would have noticed them. For a similar example, Google ‘Winnie the Pooh Xi Jinping’…