There was something familiar about the giant yellow inflatable toad, some Chinese noted online, shortly after it appeared in a Beijing park. Part of the recognition stemmed from its similarity to the big rubber duck created by the Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, which attracted huge crowds in Hong Kong and Beijing last year and triggered knockoffs in several other Chinese cities. Part came from the similarity of the 72-foot-tall inflatable amphibian, by the Chinese artist Guo Yongyao, to the “wealth-beckoning toad” statues that sit in the homes and businesses of many feng shui devotees. And part of the feeling of familiarity came after someone photoshopped a pair of large, square eyeglasses on the toad and pointed out just how much it looked like Jiang Zemin, the former Chinese president and head of the ruling Communist Party. That suggestion may have been too much for the state news agency Xinhua. After the Jiang Zemin comparison began circulating online this week, Xinhua and the Internet portal Sina deleted stories about the toad from their sites, Agence France-Presse reported.
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.
A 72-foot-tall giant inflatable sculpture of a golden toad that was unveiled last month floating on a lake in Beijing's Yuyuantan Park has become the target of Chinese censors, it seems, after it was likened on social media to former president and Communist Party leader Jiang Zemin, the BBC reports. Zemin was frequently referred to as "The Toad" during his presidency. The inflatable toad, an attempt to replicate the hysteria over Florentijn Hofman's giant Rubber Duck sculpture and court good luck—Jin Chan, the Money Toad, is a popular symbol of good fortune and prosperity in China—has disappeared from the Chinese media.
Instead, the Qianjiang Evening News published an article, excerpted in China Daily, calling the inflatable toad an imitation that not only has little artistic merit, but that also symbolizes the worst traits of the Chinese populace: The toad, like many other products in China, is just a poor attempt to replicate the success of an original work. Smartphones using the designs of Apple iPhones but selling at much lower prices are another example. What people who make these imitations don't realize is that they are violating intellectual property rights and killing the potential of true innovation in the country in their quest to make quick money. It is, therefore, necessary for the government to take strict measures to stop such people from ruining China's image in the international community. The Qianjiang Evening News explains that the success of the Rubber Duck—a version of which was recently swept away by flooding in southern China—has spawned many imitators. "Since copies and imitations that start flooding the markets don't have that freshness or charm, they can only invite public ridicule and scorn, the article states. "And that is what the giant yellow toad is expected to do."
Hofman's Rubber Duck was the target of a similar Chinese social media censorship campaign last year after an image of the playful sculpture photoshopped into the iconic "Tank Man" photo went viral on the 24th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. It's unclear if Yuyuantan Park's giant toad is still standing, or if its luck has run out.