In China’s English-language media, the nationalistic state-run tabloid Global Times, which sometimes echoes Beijing’s official voice, did report on Monday morning on the record high turnout. The article quoted at great length Choy So-yuk, a former pro-Beijing legislator, who said the opposition camp is better at luring voters with the help of social media and local news outlets like Apple Daily, a pro-democracy newspaper. The opposition tried to “slander us among the voters, but we can do nothing to stop them,” Choy was quoted as saying. The article was not available in Chinese.

Meanwhile, online discussions about the election appear to be censored, or entirely blocked, on the mainland. On Sunday night, prominent Chinese journalist Luqiu Luwei wrote on social networking site Sina Weibo that Hong Kong voters should have come earlier to avoid long queues, and included a picture of long lines at some voting centers. The post lasted for seven hours before being removed, notes China Media Project, a blog about Chinese media and censorship by the University of Hong Kong’s journalism school.

Searching “Hong Kong election” in Chinese on Weibo only leads to a handful of posts from overseas and pro-Beijing Hong Kong papers like Wen Wei Po. There are no posts from ordinary users in the search results, which is unusual for such a major China news story. Still, Weibo doesn’t say some results are not shown “in accordance with laws, regulations and policies,” as it usually does when topics are sensitive and censored.

Searching “Hong Kong election” on Weibo only turns up posts from overseas and Hong Kong papers.
Searching “Hong Kong election” on Weibo only turns up posts from overseas and Hong Kong papers.
Image: Screenshot from Weibo

It is not Beijing’s first attempt to keep mainland citizens unaware of what’s happening in Hong Kong’s political sphere. During the Occupy protests in 2014, Chinese news sites were ordered to only report official statements and op-eds condemning the pro-democracy movement, and social media posts were regularly blocked.

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