Published on October 30th, 2013 | Total Views: | by Maeve Whelan-Wuest


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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About the Author

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.

4 Responses to China’s Photoshop Fiasco

  1. Kenny2rx says:

    I think instead of the intent to deceive the public, the crude photoshopped photo was an innocent creation of someone in the government who truly thinks creating a photo with every important person in it is better than a true photo. I think he did not intend to make it deceitful, but due to the public perception of the government’s dishonesty, this is perceived as something to be ridiculed.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Partly agree with Kenny2rx. The gov’t technician did a poor job, but such clumsy sycophantic attempts to glorify “leaders” are ubiquitous in China today.

  3. Anon says:

    It might be helpful for non-China laypeople to have a couple sentences more of background info as well as a description of what we are seeing. To me, the photo looks like four men chuckling around a doll (but not really looking at him). After going to the webpage, I merely see very small older people and rather big Chinese men, but it’s not until I return to your picture that I realize you were commenting about four men who were supposed to be interacting with a live person of their same height. NOW I get it but it would be better to just have a sentence stating that the figure they are all “looking at’ is a real person who is supposed to be their same size.

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