China has blocked access to the term “Shanghai Composite Index” on some of the country’s most popular microblogging sites after the index dropped by 64.89 points on Monday.The numbers correspond to 4 June 1989, the date of the crackdown against protesters at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.
China strictly prohibits references to the crackdown and has also censored other terms relating to the unrest.
A search for “Shanghai Composite Index” on Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter resulted in the message: “According to the relevant laws, regulations and policies, the results for this search term cannot be displayed”.
Terms such as “six four”, “23”, “candle” and “never forget”, typed in Chinese search engines, do not return any information about the event.
The correlation was not limited to just the drop in the stock index.
The market opened at 2,346.98 points, with many bloggers deciphering the 23 as referring to the 23rd anniversary of the crackdown and the rest of the numbers, 46.98, again forming the date of the crackdown, when rearranged.
“Whoa, these figures are too freaky! Very cool,” one of the bloggers was quoted as saying by the Reuters news agency.
It quoted another blogger as saying that “the opening figure and the drop are both too creepy”.
In 1989, troops shot dead hundreds of pro-democracy protesters gathered in central Beijing.
Discussions of the unrest of 4 June 1989 remain taboo in the country.
The demonstrations have never been publicly marked in China, and the government has never said how many were killed.
But human rights groups’ estimates range from several hundred to several thousand killed.
Analysts say that censoring any online talk related to the event is especially important for Beijing this year, as the government gets ready for a leadership handover.