Global Times in ‚Äúpro-corruption‚ÄĚ headline storm
“People should permit a moderate amount of corruption in China,” read a post on Sina Weibo on Wednesday, claiming to be a headline for an editorial by the state-backed nationalist newspaper the Global Times.
It was soon reposted thousands of times and caused an uproar on the Chinese internet.
The post showed the source was Tencent News. Tencent is one of China’s biggest internet portals by users.
“The editorial’s headline is actually ‘Anti-corruption is a tough fight for China's social development’,” the editor-in-chief of Global Times, Hu Xijin, immediately fired back on his personal Weibo. “But it was maliciously turned into ‘a moderate amount of corruption in China should be allowed and people should understand’ when Tecent reprinted the editorial.”
Hu said the new headline misled readers about the true meaning of the editorial. “You can say no to the Global Times, but if this kind of distortion is encouraged and imitated, it’ll be a disaster for China’s public opinion,” he said.
Interestingly, the article with the sensational headline given by Tencent News was reprinted by the People’s Daily Online and the website of the Global Times.
Tencent published a letter of apology on its website 8 hours after releasing the article, and gave a link to the original editorial.
Weibo users found the sentence that may have influenced Tencent’s headline: “Corruption cannot be ‘cured’ radically in any country, so it needs to be controlled to the degree that people permit, which is especially difficult for China to achieve.”
@ŚĺźŤĺĺŚÜÖ, a columnist for FT Chinese, said: “We can discuss this technically: is it appropriate to change a headline for comments, especially for editorials? And does this accused headline garble quotes out of context?”
Weibo user @ÁéčśėüWX wrote: “If Hu Xinjin thinks the new headline is bad, he can criticize. But it’s bullshit if you don’t allow others change the headline. Too many news stories don’t have a good headline.”