The victory of Trump in the US elections is the talk of the day on Chinese social media. On e-commerce platform Taobao, Trump-related merchandise is ubiquitous, with merchants selling anything from Trump masks, to Trump toilet paper or sweatshirts. But on November 9, all Trump-related products led to an error message on the Taobao desktop version, making them unavailable for purchase.
When searching for Trump merchandise on China’s e-commerce Taobao, there are many options available. A Trump “Make America Great Again” t-shirt is sold for 59 RMB (±8.6 US$), while a Trump mask is priced at 66 RMB (±9.7 US$). Some Trump toilet paper was sold for 228 RMB (±33 US$).
But while searching for any other non-Trump-related product on Taobao does not give any problems, all Trump products gave an ‘error’ message upon clicking them in the late evening and night of November 9/10 (Beijing time).
Various English-language media outlets reported earlier that China’s censors issued advance orders to media outlets to restrict coverage of the U.S. democratic contest.
According to South China Morning Post, Chinese websites, news outlets and TV networks were told not to provide any live coverage or broadcasts of the election, and to avoid “excessive” reporting of the story. It is yet unclear if Taobao’s Trump merchandise was under similar censorship regulations.
Earlier today, a Weibo blogger posted that a factory in Zhejiang producing rubber Trump masks, as the one featured in this article, had “crazy orders” with many bulk buyers, mostly from outside China. The blogger also stated that Trump-related merchandise on e-commerce giant Alibaba had 11 pages of products, while Hillary-related products only counted 3 pages.
For now, those who want to buy a Trump mask on Taobao are out of luck – virtually all results for purchasing are blocked. On the mobile version of the e-commerce platform, some might still be able to buy a Trump mask, if they just cannot get enough of the most talked-about person of the day.
Update November 10: not just Trump merchandise, but also Hillary Clinton masks and other products have been blocked on Taobao on the election day.
Additional research by China blogger @edsander.
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