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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Emmanuel Macron offers Theresa May no comfort on Brexit

The French presidential candidate warned that he would not accept "any caveat or any waiver" at a press briefing in London.

Emmanuel Macron, the new wunderkind of French politics, has brought his presidential campaign to London. The current favourite to succeed François Hollande has a natural electoral incentive to do so. London is home to 300,000 French voters, making it by France's sixth largest city by one count (Macron will address 3,000 people at a Westminster rally tonight). But the telegenic centrist also took the time to meet Theresa May and Philip Hammond and to hold a press briefing.

If May hoped that her invitation would help soften Macron's Brexit stance (the Prime Minister has refused to engage with his rival Marine Le Pen), she will have been left disappointed. Outside No.10, Macron declared that he hoped to attract "banks, talents, researchers, academics" away from the UK to France (a remark reminiscent of David Cameron's vow to "roll out the red carpet" for those fleeing Hollande). 

At the briefing at Westminster's Central Hall, Macron quipped: "The best trade agreement for Britain ... is called membership of the EU". With May determined to deliver Brexit, he suggested that the UK would have to settle for a Canadian-style deal, an outcome that would radically reduce the UK's market access. Macron emphasised that he took a a "classical, orthodox" view of the EU, regarding the "four freedoms" (of people, capital, goods and services) as indivisible. Were Britain to seek continued financial passporting, the former banker said, it would have to make a significant budget "contribution" and accept continued immigration. "The execution of Brexit has to be compliant with our interests and the European interest".

The 39-year-old avoided a nationalistic tone ("my perspective is not to say France, France, France") in favour of a "coordinated European approach" but was unambiguous: "I don't want to accept any caveat or any waiver to what makes the single market and the EU." Were the UK, as expected, to seek a transitional arrangement, it would have to accept the continued jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.

Elsewhere, Macron insisted that his liberal economic stance was not an obstacle to his election. It would be fitting, he said, if the traditionally "contrarian" France embraced globalisation just as its counterparts were rejecting it. "In the current environment, if you're shy, you're dead," he declared. With his emotional, straight-talking approach (one derided by some as intellectually threadbare), Macron is seeking to beat the populists at their own game.

But his views on Brexit may yet prove academic. A poll published today showed him trailing centre-right candidate François Fillon (by 20-17) having fallen five points since his denunciation of French colonialism. Macron's novelty is both a strength and a weakness. With no established base (he founded his own party En Marche!), he is vulnerable to small swings in the public mood. If Macron does lose, it will not be for want of confidence. But there are unmistakable signs that his forward march has been halted. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.