A profile of Zhao Ziyang, the Communist Party chief purged in the wake of the June 4 crackdown 22 years ago, has disappeared from Baidu Baike, a web-based encyclopedia similar to Wikipedia, after just two days.
Internet users discovered that Zhao's profile, which first appeared on Monday night, was blocked by internet censors on Wednesday morning.
A search for Zhao's name on Baidu Baike, run by Baidu, the mainland's largest internet search engine, now returns a result reading: 'Sorry, the entry you are searching for cannot be displayed.' But searches for Zhao (pictured) on Baidu still generate more than a million hits, unchanged from Monday and Tuesday.
Baidu spokesman Kaiser Kuo declined to comment on the reasons behind the profile's appearance and disappearance, saying: 'We are not clear and it's not convenient to talk about it.'
The Baidu Baike entry quoted a central government verdict after the Tiananmen protest saying Zhao was 'supporting turmoil and splitting the party'. But it also acknowledged Zhao's 'contributions to the party and to the people', and described Zhao as a 'proletarian revolutionary', praise usually reserved for the death of a top communist leader. By Tuesday evening, the entry had attracted about 2.16 million hits.
Chen Ziming, a Beijing-based political scientist, said he believed there was a power struggle at the top of the party about whether to free up the discussion on Zhao.
Zhao's sympathies with student demonstrators during the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 placed him at odds with paramount leader Deng Xiaoping. He was purged and placed under house arrest, where he died in 2005 at the age of 85.