In the Orwellian lands of censorship, propaganda, and authoritarian rule, the Chinese Communist Party runs a tight ship over all media outlets, controlling exactly what is or isn’t covered. But sometimes, mistakes can slip through even the tightly clasped fists of the totalitarian Chinese regime.
Here are 7 of the most amusing blunders of Chinese state-run media in recent years.
1. Japan’s secret weapon is actually a TV show robot
In late June, China Central Television (CCTV), China’s main state-run television station, reported that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was eager to go to war with China and was creating secret military weapons. Included with the footage of a helicopter and a naval vessel was a brief clip of a mobile suit Gundam.
But Gundam isn’t a weapon. In fact, it’s a giant robot in a massively popular Japanese science fiction franchise. Gundam also has a large following in China, making the mistake particularly egregious.
2. China’s media misses nuance of April Fool’s
On April Fool’s Day in 2013, Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group, announced Virgin Atlantic airline would create the world’s first glass-bottomed planes and fly them between London and Scotland.
CCTV broadcasted the joke as factual news the next day, telling passengers not to worry as the see-through glass would meet all aviation standards.
3. CCTV photoshopped a World of Warcraft map to represent the Middle East
A documentary on CCTV about military exercises around the world featured a map showing Turkey, Iraq and Iran.
But it bears a striking resemblance to this map from World of Warcraft, a popular video game.
And differs markedly from the actual geography of the area.
4. A hobbyist’s helicopter design becomes a military weapon
In May, Chinese state-run newspaper Global Times published photos of the Japanese military’s designs for a new armed helicopter called the Fuujin Attack Helicopter. Xinhua, one of China’s largest state-run news portals, also reported on the story, citing Global Times.
But these helicopters were not designed by the Japanese military. Instead, they were pictures uploaded by Ridwan Chandra Choa, a digital artist, onto DeviantArt, a popular website for user-created images and artwork.
And despite the obvious Deviant Art url on the bottom of the image, Chinese netizens wildly speculated on Weibo, China’s social networking site, about this new technology, with some claiming it was entirely real.
5. Hollywood lands in a Chinese military drill
In 2011, CCTV reported on an air force training drill with a scene from Top Gun, a 1986 box office hit starring Tom Cruise, and passed it off as a Chinese J-10 fighter plane firing a missile that destroys another aircraft.
The Wall Street Journal compares the scenes from the CCTV news broadcast and the hollywood blockbuster in this video below:
6. Kim Jong Un is the sexiest man alive, according to People’s Daily.
The Onion, a website known for its satirical fiction, declared Kim Jong Un “the Sexiest Man Alive” in November 2012 citing his “devastatingly handsome, round face, his boyish charm, and his strong, sturdy frame” and calling him a “Pyongyang-bred heartthrob.” But the online website of People’s Daily, one of the most prominent state-run newspapers in China, reprinted the Onion joke as factual, including a 55-page photo gallery to show off Kim Jong Un’s handsome looks.
Later, The Onion applauded the People’s Daily for its excellent coverage, and in an updated version of the article, wrote, “For more coverage on The Onion’s Sexiest Man Alive 2012, Kim Jong-Un, please visit our friends at the People’s Daily in China, a proud Communist subsidiary of The Onion, Inc.”
7. Homer Simpson found to have multiple sclerosis.
In a report on multiple sclerosis, a degenerative disease in the nervous system, Xinhua News Agency included a picture of an X-ray image of Homer Simpson. Perhaps the writer was a fan.