Foreign media on China
Posted by Joel Martinsen on Wednesday, December 17, 2008 at 12:07 PM
An article in today's Daily Telegraph recapping the major problems that China has faced in 2008 leads with the following:
According to Yunnan-based blogger Hecaitou, these "intellectuals" belong to the China Committee of Chinese Aesthetics (中国汉语美学委员会), which revealed("chaos") to be 2008's word of the year after it garnered the most votes out of 2,937 total nominations.
Unfortunately for gullible readers, there's no such committee in China. Hecaitou's blog post cites a joke news agency and describes a ceremony in which "abbot Hecaitou of Dali's Tianlong Temple" inscribed the chosen character.
The joke is inspired by an annual ceremony at Japan's Kiyomizu Temple, where a monk wrote out the character("change") this year. Last year, Hecaitou chose ("rising prices"), and in 2006 he named (an obscenity) as the word of the year.
Ironically, Taiwan's United Daily News has just announced that 乱 beat out("cheat") and ("tragic") to become the word of the year. However, the character was chosen by a public survey, not an intellectual debate, and this is the first time the paper has chosen a "word of the year."
The Telegraph is in good company: Xinhua's Reference News got hoaxed not long ago by a spoof German news story about poor migrant bankers in China.
Update (2008.12.17): The framing for the article has been reworked to eliminate the reference to the character of the year. A screenshot of the original article is available above.
Update 3: A mea culpa by the story's author, who keeps a blog at the Telegraph.
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