China's People's Daily plagiarises article attacking NYT for plagiarism

The NYT has made enemies. Powerful, incompetent enemies.

Showing that going personal never fails to get attention, the New York Times publication of the personal finances of Chinese premier's Wen Jaibao's family has sparked much kickback from the Chinese Communist Party.

The entire newspaper was blocked by the great firewall on Friday, and today, the People's Daily – the official mouthpiece of the CCP – has published an editorial digging up two old scandals at the paper.

It starts off focusing on a 2010 case of plagiarism by a business reporter at the paper, and then brings up Jayson Blair's infamous falsehoods. The People's Daily also mentions an out-of-print book called Journalistic Fraud and quotes at length from a blog post written on Michael Moore's website by a journalist called Marc Adler.

So far, so authoritarian-state-smears-critics. Except as the FT's Simon Rabinovitch noticed:

Virtually every last sentence in its opinion piece had previously been published. A quick search revealed the following:

  • The opening criticism of the Times’ fallen standards and the description of the Kouwe case? From a 2010 report by China News Agency.
  • The description of the Blair case? Lifted straight from two People’s Daily articles in 2003 (at least it is copying itself).
  • The account of “Journalistic Fraud”, the book? From a 2003 article by China News Agency.
  • And that final quote from the once-loyal reader? A translation by Dongxi (a now-defunct translation website) of a 2011 article that appeared on Splicetoday.com.

Oh People's Daily. Still, at least none of those were articles from the Onion.

An Internet user points to the account page in Beijing on February 22, 2010 of China's President Hu Jintao on a microblogging platform operated by the People's Daily. Photograph: Getty Images

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

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Munich shootings: The bloody drama where everyone knows their part

A teenage gunman murdered nine people in Munich on Friday night. 

At time of writing, we know only certain facts about the gunman who shot and killed nine people and wounded many more at a shopping centre in Munich.

He was 18 years old. He was German-Iranian. He was reported to have shouted: "I am German." After murdering his innocent victims he killed himself.

We don't know his motive. We may never truly understand his motive. And yet, over the last few years, we have all come to know the way this story goes.

There is a crowd, usually at ease - concertgoers, revellers or, in this case, shoppers. Then the man - it's usually a man - arrives with a gun or whatever other tool of murder he can get his hands on. 

As he unleashes terror on the crowd, he shouts something. This is the crucial part. He may be a loner, an outsider or a crook, but a few sentences is all it takes to elevate him into the top ranks of the Islamic State or the neo-Nazi elite.

Even before the bystanders have reported this, world leaders are already reacting. In the case of Munich, the French president Francois Hollande called Friday night's tragedy a "disgusting terrorist attack" aimed at stirring up fear. 

Boris Johnson, the UK's new foreign secretary, went further. At 9.30pm, while the attack was ongoing, he said

"If, as seems very likely, this is another terrorist incident, then I think it proves once again that we have a global phenomenon now and a global sickness that we have to tackle both at source - in the areas where the cancer is being incubated in the Middle East - and also of course around the world."

On Saturday morning, reports of multiple gunmen had boiled down to one, now dead, teenager. the chief of Munich police stated the teenage gunman's motive was "fully unknown". Iran, his second country of citizenship, condemned "the killing of innocent and defenceless people". 

And Europe's onlookers are left with sympathy for the victims, and a question. How much meaning should we ascribe to such an attack? Is it evidence of what we fear - that Western Europe is under sustained attack from terrorists? Or is this simply the work of a murderous, attention-seeking teenager?

In Munich, mourners lay flowers. Flags fly at half mast. The facts will come out, eventually. But by that time, the world may have drawn its own conclusions.