A Chinese newspaper’s story about the two teenagers who died in the Asiana crash in San Francisco has attracted widespread criticism online for its fawning attitude to government officials. “If they were still alive, Wang Linjia’s eyes would widen in surprise and delight, and Ye Mengyuan would jump up in disbelief, when they learned that Cai Qi, the head of the organisation department of the Zhejiang Communist Party Committee, had paid such close attention to them,” said an article published in China Youth Daily , a state-run newspaper. The reporter Zhuang Qinghong also wrote that Cai, one of the most powerful Communist Party officials in the province, had millions of followers on Tecent Weibo and the mourning message for the two girls had been read by tens of millions. Journalists and academics condemned Zhuang and the article online. “I was so shocked after reading this article. How can a reporter write something like this! This is not only about ethics in journalism, but also about the bottom line as a human being,” wrote Lu Ye, a professor at the Journalism School of Fudan University. “[Zhuang] is a bootlicker. Shame on [Zhuang],” commented a journalist. Many news readers were equally unimpressed. “Even when writing about this kind of tragedy, the reporter doesn’t forget to toady,” said one Weibo user. Zhuang hasn’t apologised and has not deleted the paragraph from Weibo. China Youth Daily deleted the paragraph from its website hours after it received strong criticism, but kept the paragraph about Cai’s popularity. “The paragraph is not suitable in this report, and we sincerely accept all the criticism,” wrote the newspaper on its Weibo page. Zhuang was also one of the authors of another widely criticised report about Li Zhuang, a lawyer jailed for allegedly fabricating evidence while defending an accused crime boss in Chongqing who was prosecuted during Bo Xilai’s anti-triad campaign.