That's what Xi said? China state media rapped for typo

China's President Xi Jinping speaks during a Forum on China-Africa Cooperation on Dec 4, 2015.
China's President Xi Jinping speaks during a Forum on China-Africa Cooperation on Dec 4, 2015.PHOTO: REUTERS

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

The error came in a Friday story about a speech Xi gave during a China-Africa summit 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 Xi's remarks were a "resignation" (ci zhi) not a "speech" (zhi ci), 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. The error has led to the suspension of two editors and two reporters from China News Agency, according to the Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy.

Since 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, 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," 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.