News agency staff in the soup over Xi 'resigns' typo

President Xi Jinping at the African summit last Friday. China News Service staff switched two characters with similar sounds in an article about the President's speech to wrongly suggest that he was resigning.
President Xi Jinping at the African summit last Friday. China News Service staff switched two characters with similar sounds in an article about the President's speech to wrongly suggest that he was resigning.AN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

BEIJING • A Chinese state news agency has suspended four employees, a report said, following a typographical slip that suggested that President Xi Jinping was resigning.

The error came in a Friday article about a speech Mr Xi gave during the summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in Johannesburg last week.

Staff at the state-run China News Service switched two Chinese characters with similar sounds, accidentally changing the word in question to write that Mr Xi's remarks were a "resignation" not a "speech", Hong Kong's South China Morning Post reported on Sunday.

Some news sites published the report in its original form before later retracting it, the paper said.

Since Mr Xi's ascension to the head of the Communist Party in 2012, he has increasingly become the focus of fawning adulation by state media, leading some experts to say that a nascent cult of personality may be developing around him.

Last Friday, during his Africa trip, Mr Xi's name appeared in 11 out of 12 headlines on the front page of the Communist Party's official newspaper, the People's Daily.

"Praise for the glorious leadership of Xi Jinping is marquee coverage," Mr David Bandurski, an expert on Chinese media at the University of Hong Kong, wrote in a recent post about the phenomenon, noting that the paper was mentioning the leader's name at rates unseen since the era of Mao Zedong.

In September last year, an Indian TV news anchor was sacked after she referred to Mr Xi as "Eleven" Jinping, apparently confusing his name with the Roman numerals XI.

The blooper occurred on a show on Doordarshan news when Mr Xi was in India for a visit to boost trade and economic ties.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 08, 2015, with the headline 'News agency staff in the soup over Xi 'resigns' typo'. Print Edition | Subscribe