The Top 10 Fake News Of The Year In China
(TVBS News via Yahoo!
[translation] Following the rapid
economic development on mainland China, the media landscape has become more
competitive. There are now many instances in which the media created 'fake
news' in order to gain attention, especially with respect to entertainment
news. For these types of problems, the Chinese government is devising ways to cope with the worsening problems.
In my hands, I hold some of the
major newspapers of Shanghai. This is just a small fraction of all newspapers, because Shanghai has truly reached an
era of multiplicity and
diversity. But the competition among media has encouraged 'fake news' to
appear. A recent example is about the sudden death of the daughter of a Hong Kong
entertainer. This news stunned everyone and many Hong
Kong and Taiwan media quoted the report, but it proved to be a false alarm.
Another pieces of news that was shocking for
me happened last year when the mainland Chinese media reported that Ella in
the Taiwan group S.H.E. was a tranvestite. I was shocked when I saw that
and I even sent a message back to Taiwan asking for confirmed. This
proved to have been made up by the media.
In order to put a halt to this type of bad
practice, many places on mainland China have set up rules that will require
the reporters to state their real names in their reporting and thus assume
personal responsibility. The Central Propaganda Department will punish
those who write reports based upon hearsays, fabrications, exaggerations and
against commonsense. It is also expected that the rewards offered to
citizens for calling in news will be banned, because of the vast number of
'fake news' that have resulted.
In the following, I have translated the top 10
'fake news of the year' from the years 2001 through 2004. Enjoy
yourselves! Most of these stories are humorous, but it must be recognized
that fake news can have deadly consequences sometimes.
2001 (via XinhuaNet)
- Shanghai will be building a 300-story
skyscraper that can accommodate 100,000 persons. The item was traced
to an article in the London Times on February 25 in which some architects
hypothesized about such a possibility. This was wishful thinking
transformed into concrete fact.
- The parents of two couples in the same
village in Hunan province had arranged the marriages of their children when
they were infants, but
each child preferred the member of the opposite sex in the other couple.
So for the next thirty years, they pretended to get along with their
marriages, but switched beds every night. Finally, they were
discovered and their parents reluctantly agreed to have them re-married
according to their wishes. According to the follow-up, the couples
with those names do not exist in the named village; well, actually, the named
village didn't exist in that named town.
- At the Fourth Chinese Beijing New High
Technolgoy Products International Exhibition, the Asian Development Bank's
Sustainable Development director said that China has eight of the ten most
polluted cities in the world: Guiyang, Chongqing, Taiyuan, Lanzhou, Milan,
Liubo, Beijing, Guangzhou, Mexico City and Jinan. The fact was that
the director quoted a 1995 source of unknown origin, which he has since then
declined to identify.
- In a peasant village in Shanxi province, a
couple of grandparents were supposed to be looking after their
1-1/2-year-old grand son while their son and daughter went to work. On
the afternoon of July 5, the grandfather went to work in the fields while
the grandmother went out to play mahjong. The grandson was eaten alive
by a pig kept in the household, leaving behind only a pair of tiny legs.
When the grandfather came home and saw what happened, he rushed out and beat
his wife to death. Then he drank rat poison and killed himself.
After this sensational story was published, many other reporters went to the
town and was told categorically, "NO SUCH THING!" The
named individuals do not exist; in fact, the named village does not exist
within that town.
- 48-year-old American surgeon Robert Wilder
plans to go to Ulkraine to attempt the first human head transplant after
perfecting his technique on monkey heads. It was pointed out that even
if a head is transplanted, the recepient would have no control of the body
below the head. What was the point then?
- Oxford University will be awarding a
doctorate and the highest academic awards (in money) to a female Chinese
student Wu Yang for her accomplishments in the mathematics and
comptuer science examinations. This is alleged to be the first time in
the 800 year history of that university. Upon verfication, Wu Yang did
recieve 60 British pounds of scholarship money; but she would need to
complete a dissertation in order to receive a doctorate like everyone else.
- A female university student in Hubei sued
her father at the People's Court for kissing her. When she was growing
up, her dad always kissed her. But once she went to university, she
resented that and filed to a lawsuit on the grounds that it violated her
human rights. When the researcher tracked down the original writer, he
said that he was told the story by a female friend. When contacted,
the female friend said that everything but the kissing was made up.
- 28-year-old Singaporean male Eric Lee went
to Sydney and had a one-night-stand with a sexy white female in a
hotel. He was slipped a tranquilizer in drink. When he woke up,
he was naked and immersed in a bathtub filled with ice cubes. He
called for emergency help and was told that that his kidneys have been
stolen. This was a variation of the standard urban legend about kidney
thieves. It is medically impossible, since kidney donations usually
require extensive testing for compatibility beforehand.
- A top university student at a Guangxi
university needed to earn tuition money. So he ended up robbing people
and was caught. Upon investigating, the robber was using the name of
his student brother when arrested. Of course, that would not be as
good a story.
- According to a New Zealand newspaper, there
has been about 100 cases in which Tonga people have attacked and burned down
stores operated by Chinese. More than 600 Chinese shopowners and their
families will have to leave Tonga. The riots occurred because the
Chinese controlled the shops and there are many unemployed people in
Tonga. Upon checking, the fact was that foreigners are not allowed to
enter into the retail or distribution sectors in Tonga.
2002 (via XinhuaNet)
- A female newspaper reporter wrote a report
on pollution, and caused a factory owner to pay 10,000 yuan to have her
kidnapped and sold. She was transferred from one person to another,
until she was rescued after 61 days. Upon investigation, the author
admitted that it was completely fabricated.
- The poet Wang Guozhen was reported to be so
impoverished that he had to use his calligraphy skills to write shop
signs. Upon publication, the real Wang Guozhen sued the newspaper for
calumny because he was financially secure and was not in the shop-sign
- A proposal by the Nanjing city political
consultative committee members offers to rename the Nanjing Massacre
Compatriot Victims Memorial Museum into the Chinese Nanjing International
Peace Center on the grounds that it was not just about the massacre
only. Upon verification, the Nanjing city government denied any
proposal to do such.
- A news report said that microwave ovens are
responsbile for many incurable dermal diseases, to the point where many
consumers begin to think that microwave ovens are death machines. The
microwave oven manufacturers identified the source of this rumor against an
unnamed American transnational corporation. Hmm ... let us guess ...
do they manufacture gas ovens?
- An American advertiser claimed that CCTV
just called them to tell them that no American advertisements will be
allowed, and this decision was allegedly confirmed by a source at
CCTV. There will be a period of grace, but CCTV had decided that no
American ads will show up during the World Cup. When contacted by
other reporters, the CCTV advertising department said, "What is so bad
about foreigners advertising in China? Since China has joined the WTO,
we will have to go along with the rules. This is against the law, so
how can we be doing that?"
- It was reported on Ecuadorean television
that the Ecuadorean referee for the Italy-South Korean game at the World Cup
had just been shot to death in Quito. The report even included a photo
of the dead referee. Shortly afterwards, this referee was interviewed
in the United States, where he was vacationing with his family.
- The earth is reported to have only 50 years
of life left, so we better start moving people onto other planets
immediately. The World Wildlife Fund was quoted as the source.
When contacted, the WWF has no idea what this was about. This example
should have aroused suspicions before going into print, since it is very
much against commonsense.
- For the CCTV song contest, Song Zuying will
be stripped of her status as a judge, and she promises to reveal the dark
secrets of CCTV in retaliation. Upon receiving a visit by Song's
manager and lawyer, the newspaper issued an apology that the entire story
had been fabricated.
- Actress Liu Xiaoqing was detained while
under investigation for financial fraud, and a reporter allegedly went
undercover to find out about her treatment. According to the reporter,
she had a single room with air-conditioning, bathroom and shower, and the
detention center provided her with Sichuan-style meals. The Beijing
Public Security Bureau held a press conference to state that Liu Xiaoqing
was treated the same as any other detainee.
- A three-thousand-year-old Egyptian mummy was
found to be pregnant. Furthermore, the pregnancy had occurred recently
and the fetus is eight-month-old. The father was found to be the guard
at the research institute, who said that he could not resist the beauty of
the mummy and had sex with her." The source was an American
supermarket tabloid known more for practical jokes, but it was reported
without qualification at Sina.com.
2003 (via XinhuaNet)
- On March 28, CNN reported that Microsoft CEO
Bill Gates was assassinated while appearing at a charity function in Los
Angeles. Very quickly, Sohu.com, Sina.com and other Chinese web sites
carried the report and sent out SMS messages. Later, it was found that
the report appeared on a 'fake' CNN web site which the media worker believed
to be the real thing.
- A film script titled <<9/11 Life,
Death and Marriage>> by an unknown female Chinese writer living in
Canada has been purchased by 20th Century Fox Studio for 1.02 million
American dollars and will be turned into a movie directed by James Cameron,
who directed Titanic. The fact is that this was one of
thousands of movie scripts that had been submitted to any number of movie
studios, and no deal has ever been made. This was a pure publicity
- On May 11, a 1.18 meter tall man appeared
with his 1.60 meter tall wife on Chongqing television. What is the
deal here? All the media coverage emphasized that the man was a
millionaire. This is not necessarily 'fake news', but it should not be
any big deal, one way or the other.
- In the wee hours of the morning, more than
three hundred people fought in the streets of Zhengzhou with steel pipes and
staffs. The crowd ignored the orders of the police until the police
were forced to fire eight times into the air to get their attention and
stop. The story was propagated through all the media and the
provincial government ordered a thorough investigation which found -- seven
or eight people were fighting; no shots were fired; and all participants
were arrested. The reporter was not on the scene, but listened in on
the police radio and decided there must have been many more people out there.
- When Austrian Werner Schlager became world
table tennis champion, the reporters found a Chinese female by his
side. She was a professional table tennis player Tien Huan from
Shenyang married to the world champion. Unfortunately, the real Tien
Huan surfaced and said that she was coaching in Croatia during the World
Championships and could not have been interviewed.
- A single mother who could not even afford to
ride in a bus came across a briefcase containing more than 1 million
American dollars. This woman stood on the road for two full days and
then met the foreign investor who came looking for his briefcase. The
woman declined any kind of reward. Upon investigation, this was
totally fabricated. What kind of foreign investor would show up with 1
million US dollars in cash (unless he was a drug dealer)?
- According the results of an audit of
Shanghai land deals, only 57 lots out of 479 lots went through a public
bidding. In other words, 84% of real estate deals were illegal
transactions based upon under-the-table payoffs. The source of the
information was quoted as the Central Auditing Group. Unfortunately,
the group had issued no such information.
- The essay The Back Shadow by writer Zhu
Ziqing was originally selected into a literature textbook, but the students
objected because "the father ignored traffic rules and crossed railroad
tracks at will" and "the image of the father was
fuzzy." So the essay was deleted from the textbook as a result. After many
reader protests, the newspaper had to retract the story because the essay is
in the textbook and the students do not have the final
decision on what stays or goes.
- In Haikou's People's Park, a scientist was
attacked by five robbers and died. It was said that he was a famous
scientist who participated in the work on the atomic and nuclear bombs, as
well as the Shenzhou V manned space flight. The police clarified that
the scientist was not a member of the Chinese Academy of Science nor did he
participate in any of the named projects. He was a scientist caught in an ordinary crime, and that was that.
- This last story was about the trade mark
rights and exclusive rights for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The Beijing
Olympics Committee had to step in to hold a press conference about the China
logo rights have not been signed away.
2004 (via People's
- According to an in-depth investigation, a
reporter learned that the State Council has declared Chinese soccer as
"an undesirable asset" as well as an "undesirable
market" and ordered all state-owned companies to stay away. The
State Council had to issued a notice to state that no such order exists.
- At age 41, movie star Jet Li has reportedly
returned to Qinghai province to become a buddhist monk. Although Jet
Li made 140 million yuan last year, he has decided to give up that career to
study buddhism. His decision reportedly had the support of his
understanding wife. When Jet Li was reached, he smiled and said, "Do you really
believe that kind of news? And if you won't, how can I?"
- According to the coach of weightlifter Zhang
Guozheng, he obtained a credit card with a credit limit of 40,000 yuan and
waved it in front of Zhang and told him that if he could lift the weight,
then 500,000 yuan will be his. This certainly worked for Zhang.
But the national weightlifting coach said, "I worked with Zhang and the
coaches, and we talked about tactics and we studied his opponents.
Nobody ever talked about money or credit cards."
- It was reported that the second-generation
of national identity cards that will be tested in six cities will be
manufactured by a Japanese company. Will a foreign country control the
processing fo all the basic information about the Chinese citizens?
According to the public security bureau, all such identity cards will be
made in China. The reporter said that he got the information from
Yahoo! News. How about verifying the information on the Internet as
- In the early morning of August 29 near the
end of the Olympic gold medal game for women's volleyball, Sina.com reported that "Our
Chinese girls lost to the Russians in a hard-fought battle and our twenty-year quest for Olympic
gold has failed." Later, Sina.com apologized to its readers
for the mistake, explaining that they had prepared stories for either
outcome and in the rush they had published the wrong version.
- The reporter found out that Monica Lewinsky
would be coming to Chengdu to promote her book about her love life with Bill
Clinton, who will be in Chengdu at the same time promoting his own
book. Will they meet again in Chengdu? The publishers of both
denied any concrete plans to appear in Chengdu. Yeah, why in the world
would Monica Lewinsky and/or Bill Clinton be promoting their books in that
- The Confucian Temple will reportedly return
to the practice of listing the names of the top scholars (according to exam
results) in the province. The contract has reportedly been signed
between the university and the temple. Upon checking, the source of
the information came from a compilation of investment possibilities and it
was certainly far and removed away from a done deal.
- The report says that the average life of the
media worker is 45.7 years, which is a lot lower than the national average
life. The truth of the matter was that the average age of media
workers who died on the job was 45.7 years. Now that would make
a vast difference.
- A news report said that a certain brand of
flour in Huangzhe town was contaminated and may cause serious kidney and
liver damage. After a test condcuted by a laboratory, the brand was
pronounced clean. What happened here? Who submitted the original
sample? Was it authentic or faked? Who did the testing?
Who announced the test results to the public? Had those questions been
considered, this case would not made it into the newspapers.
- In Chengdu, several men were seen smashing
the windows of a white BMW 760 sedan. Supposedly a child created a
scratch on this car, and the owner demanded compensation. The father
said, "Your BMW 760 cost about 1.6 million. Let me say 1.8
million including tax. Right? I'll buy it for 1.8 million.
So this car is mine now." Then he ordered his companions to smash
the car. This is the same old story that has been repeated so many
times on the bulletin board systems. Usually, they use the same
"what" and "why" but they will change the
"where" and "when."
2005 is only half over, but I can quickly offer
five strong candidates just from my blog posts:
- A Female Public Security Officer in China
The dead model people's heroine police director Ren Zhangxia was sentenced
to 15 years in jail for corruption. Hmmm ... actually, some other
female public security officer was tried, found guilty and sentenced but Ren's photo was mistakenly used instead.
You know ... all female public security officers look alike anyway ...
- The Chizhou Incident
A 15-year-old secondary student who had just completed his final exam bumped
into a Toyota sedan in Chizhou. The irate car owner ordered his
security guards to beat the little boy to death, saying "Killing an
Anhui person is only going to cost 300,000 yuan in compensation!"
This led to a mass riot that caused four vehicles (including the Toyota and
three police cars) to be torched, a police
station trashed and a supermarket (in which the car owner was an investor) looted.
about Huaxi/Huankantou This mass riot was triggered when citizens
attempted to block access to several polluting chemical factories and the
police came in the middle of the night to remove the obstacles.
According to eyewitnesses, two elderly persons were killed when police
vehicles ran over them; other injured civilians who did not die on the scene were
hauled off to the crematorium and incinerated alive. The resulting
mass riot caused 33 injuries to the police. Hmm ... strange that no
one can name any of the dead.
Case of the Missing Fingers Nanfang Daily news reporter Wen Chong
was assaulted by several men in his home and had two figures chopped
off. They did it because of the report that he wrote about the Sun Yee On triad organized crime
group. Hmm ... actually, his jilted ex-lover ordered the hit.
If It Were False? A set of bedtime exercise photos of Shenzhen senior official Li Yizhen
with a certain television program hostess shows what it takes to get a
promotion in that town. Hmm ... actually, this one may even be true
because you can't make heads or tails from those photos.