A Chinese company has cloned the Washington Post website in Chinese language, carrying articles on foreign policy and other topics from China's state-run Xinhua news agency.
With the Washington Post masthead, the Chinese-language website credited the Post's reporters in its articles and the news of the day mirrored the selection on the US website.
"The only problem? The Washington Post Chinese edition, which in a few months since launching has built up a loyal audience among Chinese readers eager for international coverage, was not run by the US newspaper," the Financial Times reported.
But when the reports highlighted the controversial issue of cloning the Washington Post website, the Chinese website removed the US newspapers' masthead and adopted a new layout.
According to the FT report, the Chinese language website had a contract to syndicate real Washington Post content but the Chinese translations of the Washington Post's stories were mixed with articles on foreign policy and other topics from China's state-run Xinhua news agency and they, too, were labelled as Washington Post copy.
"Sun News is a client of The Washington Post News Service, which allows them to republish a number of Washington Post stories. However, our agreement does not allow them to use our brand in the way they did. We believe this is a simple misunderstanding about the contract and we are working with them to correct it," Financial Post quoted Kris Coratti, the Washington Post spokesperson, as saying.
However, Sun Media clarified that it had not breached the two-year contract it signed in January, authorising it to distribute content from the Washington Post and Foreign Policy magazine online, on social media and to its own subscribers.
Many Chinese-language sites offered by western media organisations, including The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and Reuters, are blocked by China's "Great Firewall" but the Sun News-Washington Post was freely available to mainland Chinese readers.