Local officials in Huili, Sichuan have been the target of mockery and satire after a clearly-doctored photo of their inspection of a highway was posted on the government website. From the Guardian:
The saga began on Monday when Huili’s website published a picture showing, according to the accompanying story, three local officials inspecting a newly completed road construction project this month. The picture certainly portrayed the men, and the road, but the officials appeared to be levitating several inches above the tarmac. As photographic fakery goes it was astonishingly clumsy.
The outraged – or amused – calls began to the county’s PR department, which immediately apologised and withdrew the image. The explanation was almost as curious as the picture itself: as other photos showed, the three men did visit the road in question, but an unnamed photographer decided his original pictures were not suitably impressive and decided to stitch two together.
“A government employee posted the edited picture out of error… The county government understands the wide attention, and hope to apologise for and clarify the matter,” a Huili official told the state-run Xinhua news agency.
On the evening of June 26, an Internet user made a post titled
at the Tianya Forum. “I had nothing to do today so I visited the website for our county government. The headline story was about the upgrade for the road to the countryside. I looked at the photo and I almost coughed out half a liter of blood! Even a rank amateur like myself can tell that this was a PhotoShop job, and they had the nerve to put this on the home page!” The post included a screen capture of a photo, in which three men were “floating” over a road. There were clear indications that this was a composite job. According to the caption: “County mayor Li Ningyi and vice-mayor Tang Xiaobing are inspecting the newly constructed country road at Lihong Town.” This post drew plenty of readers, and the Huili County Government website was even down for a while because of the heavy traffic volume.
On the afternoon of June 27, our reader interviewed the Huili County Government publicity department director Zhang Yongzhi. According to Zhang, several county leaders went out to inspect the road. An accompanying worker took some photos for the record. But when it came to posting onto the website, the worker decided that “the background of the original photo did not look very good” so a decision was made to crop the leaders onto a different background. The Huili County Government has removed all relevant information and reprimanded the worker who handled the photo. The Huili County Government issued an apology at the Tianya Forum and the Sina.com Weibo.
For another recent example of netizens using technology, creativity and humor to mock local officials, see this YouTube clip, “Hitler Responds to Chinese Microblogging Scandal“.