Four Chinese journalists working for the China News Service have been suspended after writing an article with a typo in the opening sentence that altered its meaning to read that President Xi Jinping was offering his resignation.
The article was covering a speech given in Johannesburg as part of Xi’s five-day visit to Africa. The line, rather than referring to Xi’s ‘speech’, pronounced ‘zhi ci’ in Chinese characters, the report mistakenly wrote ‘ci zhi’ which means ‘resignation’.
That apparently didn’t go over very well in the halls of Chinese power.
Two days earlier Xinhua misspelled Barack Obama’s name in its Chinese translation as ‘Ao Ma Ba’.
The China News Service is the country’s second-largest state-owned media agency and while it withdrew the embarrassing mistake, the gaffe had already been shared across the internet by the dozens of sites that re-published the China News Service’s story without correcting it. The error was later corrected on all re-publications.
Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, has issued a statement saying that two reporters and two editors have received suspensions due to the mistake.
Among those punished is Song Fangcan, the news service’s South Africa bureau chief.
An editor told the South China Morning Post that while such a mistake is to be taken seriously, the punishment will not be too harsh.
“Some people will receive a warning and might be suspended from work for a while to show to the propaganda department that they take such a mistake very seriously,” the editor said.
“After a while, when the incident is forgotten, they will be able to resume their duties.”
The error happened only two days after Xinhua news misspelled US President Barack Obama’s name in its Chinese translation as “Ao Ma Ba” in a report covering his meeting with Xi.
*Editor’s note: for any typos that might have slipped by in this article, we offer our sincerestist apologies.