Beijing CCTV Building On Fire, News Censored


Around 9:00pm on February 9th, the CCTV building in Beijing caught on fire. Chinese netizens quickly reported the news on the internet, with many pictures and videos. Soon, netizens began wondering why there were no television news reports about the fire, and then many websites like Sina and NetEase began removing pictures or locking disussion topics about the CCTV fire.











Some netizens said witnesses originally could see some flashlights shining out of the windows of the CCTV building trying to get help. However, as the fire burned, there were fewer and fewer flashlights. In the end, there were no more flashlights.

A Hong Kong news report (Chinese Cantonese):

A collection of CCTV Fire videos on NetEase. Some videos also show fireworks celebrating Lantern Festival and the last day of Chinese New Year.

A collection of live reports and pictures by Z0la/Zu0la is on Google (Chinese).

Some more pictures on Wonitata.

On KDS is this notice that is supposedly from the government telling website moderators to stop reporting of the CCTV Fire on news websites, BBS, and blogs. This includes no more posting pictures, videos, and to only use the Xinhua report:


The building that was on fire was not the main CCTV building with the interesting shape that many Chinese have nicknamed “The Big Underpants” although many netizens thought so during early reports. However, this building had the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

Comments on Tianya:

No way? I am currently watching the CCTV Lantern Festival Show! Is the signal going to get cut off?
It cannot be that 冏 [coincidental], could it? OMG!

The Big Underpants is on fire~
What is the little chicken [penis] going to do??

Cut it off, it is all burnt…

It is a bit crispy, but better crispy than none at all~

So many things happening…could it be yet another eventful year?

No big deal, tomorrow CCAV [a nickname for “CCTV”] will PS [Photoshop] some pictures to clear up the rumors.
The picture will only have a few performers simply smoking on the roof.

It is good that it is burning, it would be best if CCAV was burned completely.

Although it is not the Big Underpants…
the intensity of the fire is really big. Hopefully there are no casualties.

This is the fastest growing topic I have ever seen…

So fireworks really do have advantages and disadvantages~~~

Still, there are no television channels broadcasting live.
Can fireworks actually cause this big of a fire?
I am looking forward to the truth.
Of course, I know there will not be the truth.
I hope there is no one inside.
New year’s

Why are there so many people who cannot control their excitement that this is burning?

If it is about CCTV, it will arouse people’s attention.

When I first glanced at the picture on the first page, I thought of 9/11.
Such a large fire with such a tall building, it is very difficult to save.

Oh my, so scary, praying praying, if it is going to burn before the new year, then it will burn, as long as everyone is safe.

Those above gloating at other’s misfortunes can all go to hell. With such a large fire, I bet there will be some firefighters who will sacrifice their lives.

So terrible, there are probably a lot of people inside, what can they do? So high. If the power was cut off, they cannot even use the elevators.
My prayers are with them.

The fire has been extinguished now. Here are some pictures posted on KDS:


beijing-cctv-building-fire-extinguished-02 beijing-cctv-building-fire-extinguished-05

beijing-cctv-building-fire-extinguished-03 beijing-cctv-building-fire-extinguished-04

Some netizens have discovered the cause of the fire:


More news about CCTV Fire from other English China blogs:

See Also:

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Written by Fauna

Fauna is a mysterious young Shanghainese girl who lives in the only place a Shanghainese person would ever want to live: Shanghai. In mid-2008, she started chinaSMACK to combine her hobby of browsing Chinese internet forums with her goal of improving her English. Through her tireless translation of popular Chinese internet news and phenomenon, her English has apparently gotten dramatically better. At least, reading and writing-wise. Unfortunately, she's still not confident enough to have written this bio, about herself, by herself.

  • Batman

    Allow people to use more firecrackers and there’ll be more fire around!!

  • Andy

    That looks really bad, seeing a building of that size go up in flames. Hopefully there weren’t any people in the building at the time. Just some questions tho, Is that a new building? My canto isn’t that great but it seemed like the news reporter on that youtube video said that construction was finished but there’s no ones working there at the moment? That would be good news then.
    My regards to those whom might have perished.

  • Andy

    oh my, I just read some more, was it a Hotel that was burning? Now i really hope it wasn’t occupied yet.

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  • Dan Dan

    That must be a shock to all Beijingers, possibly to the whole nation. I hope no people got hurt.
    No disrespect, but an accident on that scale shouldn’t happen to an economic superpower like China anymore. Seems savety is still not taken seriously there.

  • too yellow

    Seems like the censorship is lifted now, censorship is really random is China sometimes. The consensus seems to be this is cause by fireworks.

  • janosch


    yes, it was the mandarin oriental. it was supposed to be opened this year.

    people should really take more care with those fireworks.

  • Matt

    Thanks a lot Ultraman….jerk.

  • Joe #2

    I hope that everyone evacuated safely. They probably didn’t save everyone, but hopefully at least most of the people inside were okay.

    I feel bad for anyone who was trapped inside. And I’m confused as to why the government would even try to censor that? Did they think that people wouldn’t notice a huge, burning building? I don’t think that even David Copperfield could hide something like that…

  • The Grudge

    They censor simply because they don’t want the Netizens to start wild rumors about terrorism and such, until they know actually what’s the cause behind it.

  • BBSguy

    Every thread seems to be accessible and nothing has been deleted even the kds one on censorship. Could be someone decided against it or someone’s messing around.

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  • Truth Hurtz

    Now that is one impressive lantern. That being said, I heard a lot of explosions on the video and if there were plenty of things that can combust it be very difficult to contain that fire. It’s a good thing the building wasn’t opened yet to the public for the sake of casualties. Hopefully this doesn’t become an event which changes the fireworks policy but I am thinking it will be in the talks.

  • Could this be designed to “hedge” against falling property values and tourism by collecting the insurance money?

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  • Peteryang

    the censor is back, as of 8:42am I see absolutely no reports on major news sites, no words, no photos, I haven’t checked forums but I suspect they will be the same.

    this MIGHT be a terrorist attack, disguised by surrounding fireworks, flame of this magnitude simply cannot be set off from the outside, it must have come from inside the compound. yesterday was the last day of chinese lunar new year, perfect timing if you ask me.

    and since this hotel is not yet in operation, I believe only security and management team live in there, I hope no one got hurt, and a comprehensive investigation is imminent.

  • Name

    It doesn’t make sense. How can fireworks set concrete, glass, and metal on fire like that. In order for fireworks to stick to, I’m assuming, a mostly concrete and glass building it’d have to be mixed with some kind of an adhesive.

  • Peteryang


  • I am reading this

    If there is censorship we aren’t doing too great a job as I am viewing this website and also youtube reports. Anybody know who the insurers are???? Ouch!!

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  • Kai

    Like The Grudge said and like the Wen Jiabao shoe incident, the government actually bothers trying to lock down information while they figure out their official position and strategy. Their reasons aren’t necessarily nefarious, but it does make them look suspicious if not stupid, especially since the government already has a bad reputation with covering up things in most people’s eyes.

    I personally think they’d do better if they allowed reporting and quickly provided an official spokeperson who would respond honestly with:

    “Yes, this is happening, and we are still investigating what happened. As you can see, we have mobilized all these firefighters and ambulances and we’re working hard trying to fight and stop this fire. But as you can see, it is extremely large. We hope to have more information for you as soon as possible.”

    instead of some propaganda department head issuing some decree that reads:

    “Shut up, do not report this, stop the internet, wait for our official story.”

    The government needs to adapt to the modern era where information can spread easily and rapidly because of the internet or cell phones. It isn’t just about finding new ways to control these mediums in the old way, but learning how to respond and work effectively through them, with transparency instead of subterfuge.

    A lot of the government’s old tactics are premised on them looking down on the people as children they have to manage, instead of equals they have to work with, much less the citizens they are supposed to serve.

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  • Kai

    @ mark:

    LoL, I thought that too. Maybe it is one big Mandarin Oriental insurance scam.

    @ Peteryang & Name:

    I’m curious as well. Even with fireworks exploding near the outside of a building (as they often do here in China), the sparks alone aren’t likely to cause a fire. Maybe if you shoot a firework with enough force to break through the glass and detonate inside to light up something combustible inside, yes, but I don’t think the glass on those buildings are that easily broken.

    I’m afraid to speculate but it would really suck if it was terrorism. I imagine one day I’ll be watching some fire disaster program on Discovery (probably while visiting Hong Kong) where a team of experts explains just how everything happened.

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  • tibetman

    I am sure the building is insured. So there is no problem for the builders. The workers will be hired again. But one can only hope there are no casaulties in lives.

    I am still baffled, why would the government censor this?

  • will

    saw the fires live. it was pretty awesome.

  • chingchong

    burn china, burn!

  • fcuk da lu ren

    I think it was it was a group of peasants playing ba shi fen got drunk on bai jiu and tried to light their farts on fire.

    See kids, don’t try that at home

  • Jfemmefatale

    One of the pictures of person at fault for attack looks like catwoman.

    I explain that cat kill viciously before being killed.

    I work in chinese media, hoping to end complaints of cesorship.

    Bloody Mary’s back to steal my birthright. I.E. a very pricey watch.

    Firworks, chemistry. Adhesive love.

    Explosion of jealousy.

    Yet defenders of the kitten remain. Sick, sick people. Mal a la tete

    The Kat can’t fight with words. Stop idolizering and stone the real villian who is up to no good. Tell her to go back to the kitchen and cheerleading like she belongs.

  • Truth Hurtz

    The censorship:
    It’s complete unnecessary and very backward method of handling these things. My question is why does the government still perpetuate this form of method. Do they not understand that there is such devices as the internet, media, cell phones and its only going to get harder to ‘hide’ pink elephants when the world is getting more and more ‘connected’. I mean who do they think they are fooling…and trying to spoon feed the citizen information after its been ‘euphoniously worded’ only lowers its credibility and ignites avoidable suspicions. It’s frustrating to see improvements made by the government here and there and then something like this happens and they shoot themselves in the foot. Stop this insecurity and just man up to the truth please.

  • Mike

    Sina has the report on home page, very easy to find.

  • A new hotel that’s gonna open this year, and now it’s gone! Too bad!

    My friend in Beijing told me about the news throught Skype. Even Twitter is faster than any mainstream media, and it seems it got the news before emergency services! No news on TV last night either. We are in China, censorship is common. :)

  • Jesse

    Ironically, fireworks (the rumored cause of fire) are normally used for a celebration. Now they are the cause of attack?

    The picture at the above link shows a catwoman claiming responsibility for the actions.

    The date of the attack, much like 9/11 is quite symobolic with current chinese/american cryptology.


    Nostradamus speaks of three “great ones” who are entities that act like (but not as gods). It’s rumored that two of these “one’s” clubs are currently more radical traditionalist and the third is more proscience atheistic. The two traditionalist are attempting to annihilate the third one’s club. The one’s club is likened to be as god status, thus the letter 9, the great I AM.

    I cracked encrypted messages in my line of work at home (JH by the way) and the codes suggest that the ones clubs often revolve around the shakledment to a person’s simplistic faith in a “holy” book of war and violence and a god that kicked eve out of a garden for eating an apple from the tree of knowledge.

  • JH

    China, do not lose skepticism of religion, nor hope!

    The rest of the world is full of socialists, atheists, and pro women’s rights workers!

  • Dominique

    where those filthy letters of the alphabet be?

  • Name

    But the fire doesn’t look to be coming from the inside though

  • Peteryang


    thats right, at this point the government doesn’t want people asking questions and pointing fingers, because this is one SERIOUS incident.

    by “serious” I mean few people realize exactly how. from all the evidences available, it is a premediated attack, thus it raises two huge questions:

    1. how can the security allow this to happen in the very heart of chinese capital, at this very important date?
    2. how would the security prevent similar things from happening in the future?

    until the government has figured out the answers, the censor is to stay. I guess they’re having emergency meetings up in 中南海 as we speak, and relaxing censor is not even on their schedule yet.

    every way you look at this, the government will have to answer to the public VERY SOON, and immediately begin an open investigation, with media scrutiny, otherwise it will have catastrophic impact on people’s daily lives and commercial activities, increasing insecurity in this city, and demoralizing the whole society.

    from a global point of view, china has moved to the frontline of war-on-terror.

  • Name

    According to this it only took 20 minutes for the fire to spread

  • Adam

    I wanted to be upset with all the comments taking it so lightly but i remember how it feels when you are young and see some sensational that’s real for the first time.

  • Terry


    The building has a 20 story atrium in the inside which creates a great whooshing tunnel effect (my speculation here)… and as the building wasn’t finished, there was most likely flammable construction materials on the roof which the fireworks ignited (according to one source). Danwei has some good links to eyewitness accounts etc, and also to a great article I had read before on the architecture of the building. Concrete and Steel does burn too, learned that 30 some years ago while training to be a property/fire insurance underwriter. I do hope the structure is recoverable.

    On the censorship… what else is new!! Excellent comments by Kai and Grudge above on that matter. Drove by in a taxi this morning and the taxi driver hadn’t heard the news – imagine a lao wai clueing in a BJ Taxi driver on what is going on in his city!!! (well he is a Shunyi driver and I was his first fare of the day… but still!!)

  • Name

    Extremely high temperatures can damage/destroy anything but concrete is nonflammable (it does not burn), it just decomposes and crumbles at extremely high temperatures. Steel burns, but the temperatures required would have brought the entire building down just like the World Trade Towers.

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  • Rick in China

    I don’t know why there are so many claims about the “censorship” – I mean – uh, read CCTV in Chinese, and find the datestamp on this


  • Watchoutfortheagents

    I’m glad it didn’t collapse like WT*.

  • A

    I am puzzled – CCTV was on fire or unfinished Mandarin oriental

  • BBSguy

    This thread has gone off the deep end. Nostradamus? 9/11 truthsayers?

    Here’s a full account (in Chinese)

  • Dominique

    your link is censored on my computer. However, censors change all the time.

    Censorship happens in America, too.

  • Ms. Smith

    Some filthy bastard was fondling some fireworks on this very site. Incidentally, at the time, I thought they were of a another variety. Tad bit of a chemistry lesson. :(

  • D

    What was on fire ? Here you write CCTV building. New write Mandarin oriental hotel.

  • iam sooooooooooo worry about that burninggggggggggggg