Xiamen Economic Daily apologises for doctoring photo of Taiwan flag

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 17 August, 2012, 11:11am

A mainland newspaper apologised for doctoring a photograph of activists landing on the disputed Diaoyu Islands, known as the Senkakus in Japan, to omit the fact that one of them was carrying a Taiwanese flag.

The altered photo published by Xiamen Economic Daily changed the Taiwanese flag held by one activist into the five-starred red national flag, creating the impression that all three flags carried ashore were national flags. The activists were from Hong Kong, Macau and the mainland.

After internet users noted the change, the newspaper apologised to its readers for what it called an error and inappropriate use of a photo edited with Photoshop.

"As a responsible media organisation, [we] should not allow such mistake to happen," Xiamen Economic Daily said in its Sina Weibo microblog.

Only a handful of newspapers, including the Global Times - a tabloid published by the party mouthpiece People's Daily - Shandong's Yimeng Evening News and Gansu's Tianshui Evening News published the original photo of an activist actually holding Taiwan's flag.

Some newspapers disguised or obscured the Taiwanese flag, including the Beijing News, cropped out the middle section of the photo, in which the Taiwanese flag appeared. The Beijing News further obscured it with a headline reading: "Seven guardians landing Diaoyu Islands, Foreign Ministry demands Japan release [activists]".

The Sunshine Daily, based in Shenzhen, and the Wuhan Morning Post in Wuhan , also used large headlines to obscure the Taiwanese flag. The Chongqing Times omitted the Taiwanese flag, using a half-page photo of the five-star red flag on its front page as a background to a small island, with a small cropped image of one red flag and a small part of the island.

Internet users expressed anger and disappointment at the media's depiction of the day's events.

"You are accustomed to hiding facts," one microblogger wrote.

"Safeguarding the truth is as important as safeguarding the territory," another microblogger wrote.

Although discussion about the landing inflamed the media and internet communities, the central government's main mouthpieces were noticeably silent on the issue. The front pages of the People's Daily, the Guangming Daily, the PLA Daily, the China Youth Daily and the People's Daily's overseas edition ran no reports on the landing.

The People's Daily reported briefly on the Foreign Ministry's "solemn representations" to Japan.