Ferrari crash story off limits in China

The following post from the official Sina Weibo of the Beijing Evening News (北京晚报) was deleted from Sina Weibo sometime before 8am Hong Kong time yesterday, March 19, 2012. The Beijing Evening News currently has more than 118,000 followers, according to numbers from Sina Weibo. [More on deleted posts at the WeiboScope Search, by the Journalism and Media Studies Centre].

The post dealt with a story that sparked a great deal of speculation on Chinese social media sites yesterday, the reported crash of a Ferrari in Beijing’s Haidian District at around 4am on Sunday. According to accounts on social media, the driver was killed in the crash, and two female passengers were injured. Authorities moved quickly to contain the story, leading to speculation that the driver had been a person of some political consequence, or the close relative of such person.

The post from the Beijing Evening News Weibo account follows. Our translation of the story in the newspaper is further down:

[Ferrari totalled, one dead two injured] Today around 4am a Ferrari driven by a male with two female passengers and heading from west to east on the Fourth Ring Road toward the southeast corner of Baofusi Bridge (保福寺桥) suddenly struck a barrier on the south end of the bridge and then struck a guardrail on the north-bound side. When the out-of-control Ferrari finally came to a stop the body of the vehicle had already seriously come apart. At the time the reporter filed this report, the accident had caused the death of the male driver at the scene, and the two females were injured. The cause [of the accident] is still under investigation. See the report in today’s edition of this newspaper.

The post was accompanied by the following photograph of the wreckage from the crash, taken by reporter Yu Xiang.

The original Chinese-language post from the Beijing Evening News (北京晚报) follows:

【法拉利粉身碎骨 当场一死两伤】今晨4时左右,一辆载有一男两女的法拉利由西向东行驶至北四环保福寺桥东南角时,突然撞到桥体南侧的墙壁上,随后又撞向北侧护栏。等失控的法拉利最终停下时,车身已严重分裂。截至记者发稿,事故造成车内男子当场死亡,两女重伤,原因仍在调查中。详见本报今日报道

For more discussion of this story, we refer readers to James Fallow’s blog at The Atlantic about an English-language from the Global Times newspaper, but caution that, in our view, the Global Times story is not “astounding.” English-language state media in China often do go further than their Chinese counterparts in reporting sensitive news — but this owes much to their role as public diplomacy vehicles (对外). They are meant, in other words, for foreign consumption, and work by an entirely different set of standards.

While such reporting by English-language state media is often seen as breaking through norms, it is probably more accurate to say that China has one norm for domestic Chinese-language coverage (“guidance of public opinion“), and a separate norm for public diplomacy (English Global Times, China Daily, CCTV English).

On March 19, the story of the Ferrari crash was covered by both China News Service — the country’s number-two official news service after Xinhua — and by the Beijing Evening News. The Beijing Evening News story follows:

Beijing Evening News
March 18, 2012
PG 5

Ferrari is totalled — one dead two injured

(correspondent, Yu Xiang/于祥)

Today around 4am a Ferrari driven by a male with two female passengers and heading from west to east on the Fourth Ring Road toward the southeast corner of Baofusi Bridge (保福寺桥) suddenly struck a barrier on the south end of the bridge and then struck a guardrail on the north-bound side. When the out-of-control Ferrari finally came to a stop the body of the vehicle had already seriously come apart. At the time the reporter filed this report, the accident had caused the death of the male driver at the scene, and the two females were injured. The cause [of the accident] is still under investigation.

A fire brigade from Shuangyushu (双榆树) arrived quickly at the scene after responding to a call. At the time [of their arrival] vehicle parts were spread all over the scene and a Ferrari sports car with its front end completely gone was stopped at the north end of the road. The engine stood in the middle of the road, having already caught fire and burned. There were three people originally in the vehicle, including the male driver, one male and two females, and all were thrown far from the vehicle.

A doctor from the 120 Emergency Treatment Center (120急救中心) determined the male dead at the scene, and the two females, who were in critical condition, were admitted to the hospital for urgent medical treatment. Meanwhile, the fire brigade set about extinguishing the engine fire. Two minutes later, the engine fire was completely extinguished, and the fire brigade and police began their detailed handling of the scene.

According to the original caller who notified the police said that as he was driving in the direction of the North Fourth Ring Road in the area of Baofusi Bridge, he saw the Ferrari with its front end already completely destroyed. [Photo by Yu Xiang].

NOTE: All posts to The Anti-Social List are listed as “permission denied” in the Sina Weibo API, which means they were deleted by Weibo managers, not by users themselves.

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