President Xi Jinping’s call for greater tolerance of “well-intentioned” criticism online of the authorities in China has resulted, with much irony, in officials censoring reaction to his comments on social media. Xi said at a forum on cybersecurity on Tuesday that officials should “heed public opinions” online and show internet users “greater tolerance and patience”. He also pledged to take online criticism towards the Communist Party, the government and officials on board as long as it was “well-intentioned”, regardless how unpleasant it was to hear. Hours after the forum the state news agency Xinhua started to post highlights of the speech on its Weibo account. China blocks VPN services that let users get round its ‘Great Firewall’ during big political gatherings in Beijing But readers clicking on the comments section of the posting were shown a message that said: “This Weibo post is closed for comments.” The post was shared over 5,000 times, but had only 16 comments. Among them, only two were allowed to be displayed. One said: “It is a good channel to listen to public opinion through the internet. The most important thing is to safeguard the country’s cybersecurity and a clear environment for public opinion. Those distorted, slanderous improper comments should be eliminated.” Comments on Xi’s remarks posted on the social media accounts of state television CCTV, Sina News and the China News service were also censored. Many people who discussed Xi’s call for more tolerance of criticism had their posts deleted, according to the Free Weibo site, which tracks censored items on the microblogging platform. The authorities in China have tightened their grip on in the internet since President Xi took office, with websites and social media subject to stronger controls and censorship. Chinese watchdog closes blogging accounts of ex-tycoon critical of President Xi Jinping’s comments The outspoken property tycoon Ren Zhiqiang’s social media account was blocked in February after he questioned Xi’s demand for state media to pledge absolute loyalty to the party. One deleted post about President Xi’s remarks suggested internet regulators heed his call for greater tolerance and reinstate Ren’s Weibo account, the monitoring website said.