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Chinese-Speaking Laowai Embarrasses Newspaper by Debunking Propaganda Story

Posted: 12/23/2014 4:55 am

Let this be a lesson for any state news outlets that want to drum up favorable coverage by using innocent foreigners in propaganda stories: choose a foreigner that does not speak Chinese or have a huge vocabulary of Chinese curse words.

Chongqing Evening News, a major newspaper in the city, discovered this the hard way. On December 19, the paper published a photo essay called “The Story of the Reception Bench at the Police Station,” a piece that documented some of the drug addicts, drunks, derelicts and various other people who had to wait on the police station’s bench. One such person was a foreigner who had some housing issue. The photo essay showed a police officer, who had apparently passed English Level Eight in China, helping the foreigner in English on September 8.

In a detailed description, it said: “Police officer Wan Pitao is using English to help a foreign student in Shapingba District … Wan Pitao graduated from Sichuan Foreign Languages University and is the only police officer who passed the Level Eight English Test.”

Little did the newspaper know, but the foreigner in the piece reads and speaks Chinese and said the story was inaccurate. He took to Weibo to rebuff the story, claiming the police officer in the photo didn’t speak English, nor did he solve his problem, nor did he give his permission for his photo to be used.

The foreigner, known on Weibo as @boogjohn小觉, has been living in China for nine years. He said he used Chinese to communicate with the officer and wasn’t aware a photographer was there taking his picture. In addition, the officer was unable to help him solve his problem immediately, adding it dragged on into the next day.

The original post, which has been deleted from the user’s account but is still circulating as a screen grab, was filled with colloquial Chinese and local Chongqing curses. Some online user even said, “Teach me Chinese. I think you must have passed Level Eight Chinese,” reported Nandu.

The foreigner wrote again on December 21:

Stop, alright? I am just a happy person. How come a post like this goes viral on the Internet? I don’t have any intentions. But some Chinese media are quite stupid too by doing such useless things. Everyone loves to paste gold on one’s face, but I am just very straight forward.

Within just a few days, boogjohn小觉 got 67,000 followers.

So far, no word from the local police station.


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