China censors giant inflatable toad story after comparisons with former Communist Party chief

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 July, 2014, 1:28pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 July, 2014, 3:52pm

Chinese reports about a giant inflatable toad have been deleted from the internet after social media users compared the puffed-up animal to former Communist Party chief Jiang Zemin.

The installation of a giant inflatable duck in Hong Kong’s harbour last year sparked a national craze for oversized blow-up wildlife, with several Chinese cities launching their own imitations.

The latest, a 22-metre-high toad, appeared in a Beijing park last weekend, but met with mockery from social media users who said it bore an uncanny resemblance to Jiang.

Xinhua's website and Weibo deleted their reports on the animal – seen as a symbol of good fortune in traditional Chinese culture – by Wednesday.

A message on Xinhua’s website read: “Sorry, the report you are attempting to access has been deleted or has expired,” although reports on some lower-profile news sites were still accessible.

Last year Weibo blocked searches for “big yellow duck” after users posted an image of the iconic “Tank Man” photograph showing a Tiananmen Square protester but with military vehicles replaced by giant ducks.

Jiang - who stepped down as president in 2002 but still wields influence within the party - has been mockingly nicknamed “toad” by some internet users for his jowly features.

Rumours have been swirling around Jiang amid reports that current party chief and president Xi Jinping is targeting some of the former president’s allies in an anti-corruption drive.

A spokesman for Yuyuantan park in Beijing said there were no immediate plans to remove the toad.