How China’s defence ministry turned its PLA Photoshop fail into a PR save
China’s defence ministry apologised on Thursday for a poorly photoshopped poster that became the subject of online ridicule after it was posted on its social media accounts.
Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said he was “sincerely sorry” that the image was “not meticulous”.
“The carelessness was with the editor, the responsibility is on the shoulders of the leadership,” Yang said at a monthly news briefing.
It was the first time the defence ministry had publicly apologised for a work error, according to the Global Times.
The poster – which appeared on the ministry’s Weibo and WeChat accounts over the weekend to mark the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s 68th birthday – showed navy ships and fighter jets alongside China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning.
However, the image depicted a Russian fighter jet and American amphibious assault ships instead of China’s own military weapons.
The mistakes prompted a wave of criticism from Chinese internet users and ridicule in Western media.
Yang said neither the image nor the critical comments would be removed from the ministry’s social media accounts as they served as a warning.
Following his press briefing, Chinese internet users congratulated the ministry on its good public-relations save.
“This is the right way to deal with the public,” one user wrote. “Refusing to admit a mistake or deleting messages are not as good as honestly admitting a mistake and bravely accepting responsibility … Really hope the government can understand this principle at all levels.”
“Very good. At least they didn’t blame it on a temporary worker,” another user wrote.
Another one said: “Pretty good, admit it if you make a mistake, be magnanimous.”
One user referenced online polls to name China’s newly launched aircraft carrier, which saw suggestions such as “Mantis Shrimp” and “Taiwan” topping the list.
“Will the cost for this mistake be that you’ll let us name the aircraft carrier?” the user wrote.