Chinese state media makes Syria photo gallery blunder
An image chosen to show Americans criticising their government instead shows them criticising China
Chinese state media made a mistake when compiling a series of photographs that was meant to portray people across the world protesting against US military action on Syria - one of the selected photos clearly showed demonstrators protesting against China instead.
The photo gallery, which appeared on September 2 on the website of China Radio International, a state-owned international radio broadcaster, ran under the title “People of many nations hold demonstrations in protest of United States military intervention in Syria”. The photos appear to have been compiled from various news agencies, and while all portrayed anti-war demonstrators, one image was slightly different from the others.
Although it appeared with the caption “Americans outside the White House protesting military action against Syria”, the image showed demonstrators holding up two signs – one labelled “Free Syria” and the other reading “China, shame on you, your veto is killing Syrians.”
The signs indicated that instead of speaking out against potential American attacks on Syria, the protestors in the photo were condemning China’s vetoes on three United Nations resolutions that threatened Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government with sanctions.
China, along with Russia and Iran, has caused controversy in the international community since 2012 by vetoing UN efforts to sanction Syria. China’s stance on the matter has not changed in the last year, and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi recently said that “a political resolution is the only way out for the Syrian issue”.
Search results via Jike, a Chinese search engine, revealed that the misplaced photo may have been taken by Agence France-Presse photographer Mladen Antonov, who was not available for immediate comment. China Radio International removed the photo from the gallery several hours after it was first uploaded, but not before the image was picked up by other Chinese media outlets, including Sina News and East Money.
Netizens on Sina Weibo, China’s foremost social network, were some of the first to discover the misplaced image, which went viral and attracted over 300 comments on various microblogs. Many said it was ironic that a photo meant to show Americans criticising their own government instead showed them criticising China.
“There are no journalists [in China] who can understand English,” one Weibo user wrote. “This is a big problem.”
“They should have found a high school student to help them translate [the English] in this photo,” another said.
This is not the first time Chinese state media has made photograph gaffes. Recently, another Chinese news outlet published spaceship designs from the American science fiction TV programme Battlestar Galactica, writing that they were images of “futuristic aircraft carriers".