BEIJING A Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece has taken to Twitter, banned in China, to call for the "immediate rectification" of an account which uses the social media platform to satirize Chinese officialdom and state media.
The Relevant Organs' account, @relevantorgans, calls itself "China's soft-power vanguard, rectifying your thought since 2010."
But the People's Daily, a mouthpiece for the Chinese government, appeared to take offense at the satirical Twitter account's use of a link to the People's Daily website and China's national emblem.
"We have noticed that a Twitter account has been misleading people by stealing People's Daily's web address and National emblem of China to make false impression that the account is related to China officials or People's Daily," read a statement posted on People's Daily's Twitter account, @PDChina.
"We hereby solemnly declare that this Twitter account is not related to or does not have connection with any Chinese official bodies, including People's Daily," the statement continued.
"People's Daily publicly condemns such theft and forgery conduct and demands the user of this account to make immediate rectification."
Reuters could not independently verify the authenticity of the statement the People's Daily account.
People's Daily declined to provide immediate comment.
The Relevant Organs responded with its own series of tweets, initially saying it 'hailed' People's Daily's "e-rectification campaign".
But the parody then called into question the authenticity of the government publication's Twitter account.
"Investigating unauthorized @PDChina account," read one tweet. "Initial data indicates 2,000 followers since May 2011."
The Relevant Organs boasted its own credentials made it a more credible outlet, with the entire population of China as its audience: "We have over 5,000 years of history and 1.3 billion followers... Which news source would YOU trust?"
Having been largely inactive since 2013, The Relevant Organs also poked fun at the late timing of the protest against its account.
"Smoking gun: So-called @PDChina "caught" us a year after our retirement. Much too fast for a real Party news organ. Rookie move, comrades."
The Relevant Organs is much loved by China watchers since it first tweeted in 2010, "Ardently celebrate the triumphant registration of the Twitter account!"
The spoof account, with some 14,000 followers, accurately mimics the turgid, formulaic writing and speaking style of China's authorities and state media.
The Relevant Organs has previously lampooned North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Bo Xilai, the former Communist Party boss of Chongqing who was jailed last year for corruption, and foreign media working in China.
Numerous Chinese state media outlets use websites blocked in China like Facebook and Twitter for publicity, including state broadcaster CCTV, People's Daily, and official news agency Xinhua.
(Reporting by Paul Carsten; Additional reporting by Beijing Newsroom; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)