China’s Photoshop Fiasco

The photoshopped photo as originally published on the Ningguo government website. (Photo credit: Ningguo City Government)

This photo, published on the Ningguo government website (a city in China’s Anhui Province), has gone viral; first through Sina Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter (Author’s note: this is the last time I will use this phrase. Weibo dwarfs Twitter, and therefore, does not deserve this attached moniker), and now through Twitter, the U.S. version of Weibo. It shows four officials including Vice-Mayor Wang Hun visiting the home of a 100-year old woman; and by officials, I mean giants wearing invisibility pants.

So, why is this interesting?

– Well, faulty photoshop jobs are always entertaining. I have almost zero experience with the program, but that shouldn’t deter me from chuckling on my graduate student high-horse, right?

– Chinese netizens are constantly on the prowl to expose the dishonesty of government officials, which is why this seemingly harmless photo of small-city vice-mayor has garnered such attention. This is another example of growing online criticism, which, as we have recently seen, is starting to frustrate the government.

– Allegedly the officials did visit the elderly woman, which led Beijing Cream to “chalk up the photoshopping [incident] to studipity* rather than dishonesty.”

– This final point makes me wonder, is this a stupidity problem, or does it represent the lack of resources available to the Ningguo administration? Perhaps they do not have the latest version of Photoshop or the human capital to effectively use it?


*Is this a typo or is Beijing Cream being hilarious?

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Maeve Whelan-Wuest

is the Co-Founder and External Relations Director of China Focus. Originally from Chicago, she received her B.A. in Geography and Chinese from Middlebury College in Vermont. Her research at IR/PS is focused on Northeast Asian security issues, particularly China's role in shaping nonproliferation and nuclear security policies on the Korean peninsula. She is also the President of the China Focus student organization, Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of International Policy Solutions, and Co-Founder and Finance Director of IR/PS Women Going Global.

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