China: Bans inflatable toad reports amid mockery fears

Giant inflatable toad in Beijing, China Image copyright Getty Images

China's censors seem to have banned internet reports about a giant inflatable toad floating in a Beijing park, amid mockery on social media comparing it to ex-president Jiang Zemin.

References to the 22m (72ft) toad unveiled in Beijing's Yuyuantan Park last month have vanished from all major news portals, and a story on the Xinhua news agency site is now unavailable, Channel News Asia cites the AFP news agency as saying. One paper - the official China Daily - dismisses the toad as a "poor attempt to replicate the success of an original work", but fails to mention the still-powerful Jiang - who was nicknamed The Toad during his 13-year rule.

There has been a nationwide fad for huge blow-up animals ever since a Dutch designer floated an enormous rubber duck in Hong Kong harbour last year. In fact, the giant duck triggered so much discussion on social media that the government banned online searches for 'big yellow duck' after Sina Weibo mini-blog users posted photo mock-ups of the iconic lone Tiananmen Square protester facing down not a column of tanks but a parade of bath toys.

As for the toad itself, a traditional Chinese symbol of good luck, it is still floating in the park lake, and a spokesman told Channel News Asia there are no plans to remove it.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Former president Jiang Zemin is still an influential figure in Chinese politics

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