One of our columns is missing (again)

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’…


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18 Responses to One of our columns is missing (again)

  1. Joe Blow says:

    How did Shirley’s column get past the SCMP censors in the first place ?

  2. Cassowary says:

    Oh look, your link mysteriously went dead. How apt.

  3. Chris Maden says:

    They’ve already taken down the copy on followcn!

  4. Paul says:

    It’s gone from the link you gave, although Googling the title (which the SCMP so helpfully reproduces in full in its apology) produces several copies still around.

  5. Tamey Tame says:

    You don’t get it.

    We used to have lots of people who carefully pored over every word we published, pointing out anything ‘unverified’, checking the facts, sorting out the Chinglish, making sure the whole thing made sense, kicking ‘problematic’ stories upstairs so someone senior could make a decision.

    Trouble was, most of the ‘problematic’ stories they flagged were exactly the kind of puff-piece or mainland propaganda shill we liked. Also, most of them were white and had worked at real newspapers, so expected editorial standards, good journalism, consistency, etc – not the kind of people we want at SCMP. Now we’ve got a handful of web-jockeys who can run a spellcheck and press ‘publish’ so all the old mates we’ve hired as ‘senior editors’ can have peace and quiet to enjoy our four-hour meetings about ‘quality control’.

    Tamey Tame,
    Editro in Chef

  6. So why don’t they hack your pages?

    Because you and the Capitalists and the Communists are all on the same page.

    They really tried to censor me. Why is that?

    Tinctures at the FCC!


  7. big tung says:

    When Chua Hwa Por (蔡華波) began buying a stake in Hong Kong & Shanghai Hotels – the holding company of The Peninsula – early this year, he could not have imagined the troubles that would follow.
    The 32-year-old already owns a race horse called Limitless at more than £1 million (HK$9.63 million), a HK$120 million (US$15 million) bungalow in Stanley, a HK$500 million office on the top floor of The Center, and a listed company to build his empire with. So the luxury hotel group controlled by the Kadoorie family is just another prime asset to park his spare cash in.
    (L to R) Trainer Peter Ho Leung, Jockey Silvestre de Sousa and Chua Hwa Por at the Shatin Jockey Club on February 19, celebrating the win by Chua’s horse Limitless. Photo: SCMP/Kenneth Chan
    Since late June, Chua’s stake has gradually climbed from below 5 per cent to 11.79 per cent, costing an estimated HK$1.5 billion. He didn’t even bother to hide behind an investment group or fund.
    What Chua has underestimated is the interest in himself that the deal has stirred up.
    In his regulatory filing, Chua portrayed himself as a Singaporean with nine years’ experience in investment. But his wealth was too vast, and his Zhejiang accent didn’t quite jive with someone from Lion City.
    A Hong Kong magazine tailed him for days before reporting last week that Chua had filed the same residential address on Stanley Beach Road as a woman named Li Qianxin (栗潛心), through a company called Chua & Li Membership. Li owns the house via a company called Century Joy, according to Company Registry and Land Registry records, obtained by Money Matters.
    The woman’s Chinese surname is rare, so rare in fact that it’s not even among the 100 most-used family names for the entire Chinese population. You’ll have to look to number 249 to find the surname, used among just an estimated 300,000 people in the entire country.
    Chua’s Limitless galloping on the all weather track at Sha Tin on February 17. Photo: SCMP
    This is an illustrious clan, with prime ministers and high officials through the centuries. The most famous, and highest-ranking Li out of the current clan, would be Li Zhanshu (栗戰書), the right-hand man to the Chinese president Xi Jinping.
    His job titles are Director of the General Office of the Communist Party and the Chief of the General Office of the National Security Commission, roughly equivalent to the Chief of Staff in the US government. He’s one of the most powerful men in the Communist Party and could be on the path to promotion when the party meets this autumn to pick their leaders for the next five years.

    A property at 6 Stanley Beach Road, Stanley, is registered in Chua’s name
    On paper, Li Qianxin’s name looks the same as Li Zhanshu’s daughter. How is Chua, who owns 73.7 per cent of Tai United Holdings Ltd., related to an up-and-coming Chinese state leader?
    According to Tai United staff, madam Li had been seen at the company on at least two occasions giving instructions to employees. Neither he nor the company would respond to queries.
    Instead, Chua resigned as Tai United’s chairman and executive director on July 11, citing other business engagement immediately followed the press revelation.
    Three days after his resignation, Chua and Li left for Beijing on a 7 am flight, sources said, and have not been seen since in Hong Kong. Meanwhile, Chua’s purchase of shares in Hong Kong & Shanghai Hotels came to a halt as of July 10, the day before he resigned from Tai United’s board.
    The Peninsula in Beijing. Photo: SCMP
    You may find these reactions comical. Yet, with a few months to go before the Communist Party picks its leaders, it’s not hard to imagine everybody on tippy toes, or the political shock caused by the revelation.
    In Xi’s anti-corruption campaign, whoever that’s aiming for the next leadership role will not want to be seen, or even to be rumoured, as the father of a fat cat.
    Whether Chua is indeed a princeling can’t be verified except through his own mouth, but he did command enough clout to transform Tai United from a distributor of medical devices into a financial powerhouse. Its business description now says it’s in distressed assets management, tungsten mining, commodities and securities trading. It also owns two real estate projects in London.
    That was the result of a HK$3.5 billion investment spree funded by his HK$3 billion investment and HK$1.3 billion in lending by financial firms including Haitong Securities.
    That was only a third of the HK$10 billion investment plan that Tai United had pledged. Among them was the acquisition of a financial company in China.
    Tai United’s management team comprises chairman Meng Zhaoyi, who used to head the property insurance division at the People’s Bank of China and had worked at Taiping Insurance.
    Ye Fei the senior vice president is a former vice president at Taiping Life Insurance while Xu Ke the executive director used to work for China Cinda Asset Management.
    This is not a team that any ordinary Singaporean private entrepreneur could muster.

  8. Chinese Netizen says:

    “It’s gone from the link you gave, although Googling the title (which the SCMP so helpfully reproduces in full in its apology) produces several copies still around.” ~Paul

    Obviously a devious little minion staffer at SCCPMP with still a shred of decency topped with a bit of humour

  9. LRE says:

    Yesterday the delegation disappears, today the article, tomorrow … who knows what will be unavailable in your super soar-away South Censored Morning Post-redacted ?!
    I suppose it’s just a delicious and timely reminder why google fell out of favour in China.

    No doubt the Internet archive is similar unreachable out in the mainland.

  10. Old Fishmarket Close says:

    I heard , from an old colleague, that the entirety of the SCMP’s Tai Po operations will be moving a few floors below Alibaba’s in Times Square.


  11. LRE says:

    Strangely, it would seem single unverifiable insinuations from Chinese state TV are just fine with the SCMPs editors for some reason.

  12. Cassowary says:

    @Chinese Netizen: Rather like the amusingly pedantic apology the New York Times once issued to Lee Kuan Yew’s family under legal duress. Google it, it’s a master class in passive-aggressive grovelling.

  13. VectorVictor says:

    Presumably MUIs will join the likes of WMDs, IEDs, so-called Islamic State (or should that be lower case?), fake news (or is it fake?) etc, etc.

    @LRE SUIs are, of course, sui generis

  14. LRE says:

    “In 1994, Philip Bowring, a contributor to the International Herald Tribune’s op-ed page, agreed as part of an undertaking with the leaders of the government of Singapore that he would not say or imply that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had attained his position through nepotism practiced by his father Lee Kuan Yew. In a February 15, 2010, article, Mr. Bowring nonetheless included these two men in a list of Asian political dynasties, which may have been understood by readers to infer that the younger Mr. Lee did not achieve his position through merit. We wish to state clearly that this inference was not intended. We apologize to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew and former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong for any distress or embarrassment caused by any breach of the undertaking and the article.”

    Ironic that it involved the Self Censored Morning Post‘s own Philip Bowring.

  15. Probably says:

    Irrespective of one article being pulled I would urge all of you who appreciate Shirley Yam’s articles to keep clicking on them on the SCMP website. I am told they do monitor who their most popular writers are via internet clicks. This is how Jakey Boi survives and as such it would be foolish to let them go and write there treatises elsewhere (and possibly more freely).

  16. Tim hamlett says:

    Old Fishmarket raises the interesting possibility of the entire Post operation moving to Times Square. Not the printing press, I think. The editorial bits moved to Taipo always hated it.

  17. Walter De Havilland says:

    It’s clear the operation at the SCMP is struggling. They keep allowing comments on subjudice cases, causing an interesting exchange with a defense lawyer in the ‘cooments’ section. Only a matter of time before a judge pulls them in for a word.

  18. Old Fishmarket Close says:

    Tim Hamlett, from what he was implying, there won’t be any need for a print press in a year or two, anyway. Still, who knows? When I worked there, all we got from senior management was obfuscation and knee-jerk reactions.

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