The Nanfang has caught the People’s Liberation Army Daily, the military’s flagship newspaper, lifting photographs from a US hunting magazine and claiming they are Chinese soldiers in camouflage.
On Friday morning, the PLA Daily sent out the following post on Weibo that included nine pictures (seen in the gallery above):
(translated) Test your eyes and have a look at these unnaturally effective camouflage
Camouflage is achieved by using paint, dyes and other materials to blend in with a cover or with background surroundings. Modern camouflage attire isn’t just limited to (civilians) wearing it, but also for use during warfare. Have a look and test your eyes; in the following pictures, can you find the people in them?
But that’s when we started to get suspicious. First, commentators in the PLA Daily pointed out each of these camouflaged people are conspicuously featured as the main subject of each photograph, almost as if they want to be seen.
On further inspection, there are other strange details: the “soldiers” use guns without scopes as well as non-traditional weapons like compound bows. They are also using animal calls or antlers as if to attract animal prey, and they are often seen with baseball hats with the same logo on it. If things don’t add up, it’s because these pictures are actually hunters in America wearing camouflaged products made by US-based sporting goods retailer Realtree.
Here’s how the People’s Daily Online published the story:
And here’s a screengrab from the Realtree hunting website promoting its Realtree Xtra Green Camouflage products:
To be fair, the PLA Daily did not explicitly say that the camouflaged people in the photographs are PLA soldiers. However, they didn’t say they were from Realtree either, and the paper isn’t known for showcasing equipment and technology that doesn’t belong to the PLA.
The People’s Daily Online reported the photos depict “combat uniforms featuring camouflage patterns”. Similarly, 21CN said these are “camouflage warfare outfits” while iFeng called them “Real warfare camouflage”. Both Sohu Military and AK Military News said these are “Camouflaged outfits of PLA soldiers”, captioning the photos with “The outfits of the PLA are enough to make people gasp in astonishment.” Likewise, the following Weibo users are under the impression that the person depicted is a Chinese soldier, writing, “Camouflage outfits of the PLA soldiers will test your sight: looks exactly like a tree, but holds a gun”
Only one out of the nine photos included in the original PLA Daily post does not appear to be affiliated with Realtree — it’s the last one (in the gallery) in which a person is seen crawling among a pile of rocks.