China is blocking all reports of a huge inflatable toad seen in a park in Beijing after social media users started comparing it to one if its former Communist Party leaders.

The 22-metre (72ft) yellow toad was unveiled at Beijing's Yuyuantan Park, but its appearance was quickly compared to that of the country's former president Jiang Zemin.

Users on Sina Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter, shared pictures of the toad with Jiang's trademark glasses superimposed over it.

Jiang stepped down as president in 2002 but is still regarded as an influential member of the Communist Party. He was nicknamed The Toad during his 13-year rule in China.

However, all reports on Chinese web portal Sina – which operates Sina Weibo – removed all mentions of the toad and a story on Chinese news agency Xinhua also deleted its report on the inflatable animal.

A message on Xinhua's website said: "Sorry, the report you are attempting to access has been deleted or has expired."

There has been a craze in China for inflatable animals ever since a giant yellow duck floated through Hong Kong's harbour last year.

China's tightly-run internet also blocked searches for "big yellow duck" on Sina Weibo after users edited image of the iconic "Tank Man" during the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests to replace the tanks with dozens of giant inflatable ducks.

The Communist Party maintains strict control over the internet in China, with people facing prosecution for writing articles deemed critical of the government. Foreign websites such as Facebook have also been blocked.

A spokesman for Yuyuantan park told AFP there were no immediate plans to remove the toad.

hong kong duck
Thousands of people crowd the waterfront on the last day to see a giant duck, conceived by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, in Hong Kong Getty