This Photo Is Being Censored in China

The runners' numbers just so happen to make 6/4, the anniversary of Tiananmen Square
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 4, 2023 8:45 AM CDT
This Photo Is Being Censored In China
Gold medalist China's Lin Yuwei, left, hugs compatriot China's Wu Yanni after their women's 100-meter hurdles final at the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023.   (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

It was a congratulatory hug following a Sunday race at the Asian Games—and photos of it are being scrubbed from social media in China. Lin Yuwei took gold in the 100m hurdles; Wu Yanni embraced her. It's an innocuous enough scene, except for the race numbers they happen to have been assigned based on their lanes: 6 for Lin and 4 for Wu. That hug inadvertently created "64," which the BBC calls a "common allusion" to the Tiananmen Square massacre, which happened on 6/4—June 4, 1989.

Congratulatory posts made to Weibo that originally displayed the photo were switched to just show a gray square. Radio Free Asia reports that by Tuesday night, the image had also been pulled from a number of official news websites, including that of state broadcaster CCTV. The Guardian reports that particular race raised a ruckus for another reason: Wu is a standout athlete in China, and a false start at the race's beginning earned her a red card, meaning she was disqualified. After protesting, she was allowed to run and finished second—only to then be disqualified, with silver going to Jyothi Yarraji of India. The Guardian's view: "That Wu had been allowed to run at all prompted concern that race officials were reluctant to disqualify one of China's star athletes, regardless of sporting rules." (Read more Tiananmen Square stories.)

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