China's last leader
Xi Jinping Brought Down a Notch by an Unlikely Agent: A Typo Link here
HONG KONG — The story from Xinhua, China’s state news agency, meant to call Xi Jinping “China’s highest leader,” but the change of one character resulted in the Chinese president being called instead “China’s last leader.”
The article was quickly corrected after it was published on Sunday afternoon, but the seemingly seditious slip-up was caught and reported by Chinese-language news outlets in Hong Kong. It still exists in at least one online cache of the story.
The embarrassing flub follows a high-profile visit by Mr. Xi last month to Communist Party and state media outlets, where he told reporters and editors that they must “protect the party’s authority and unity.”
The error on Sunday appeared in a notebook-style article based on observations of events focusing on the economy at the National People’s Congress and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, which are holding their annual sessions in Beijing.
It included quotes from economists and officials stressing the importance of maintaining confidence in China’s economy despite slowing growth and other worrying indicators. The passage referring to Mr. Xi came near the very end and quoted him on the need to take a long-term view of economic fluctuations. It called him China’s “zuihou,” or “last,” leader when it meant to say “zuigao,” or highest.
Reached by phone, an employee at the Xinhua editorial department that handled the story said it was not immediately clear whether anyone would be punished for the mistake.
Typos involving high-level Chinese leaders can lead to punishment for the journalists involved. In December, a phrase intended to explain that Mr. Xi gave a speech in Africa was jumbled to suggest that Mr. Xi had resigned. That error resulted in the suspension of four editorial staff members at the state-run China News Service, according to the Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy, a human rights group based in Hong Kong.
Chinese news outlets have seen their narrow room for aggressive reporting and commentary further constrained under Mr. Xi. Such restrictions came under unusual criticism twice last week. Caixin, a well-respected business news outlet, documented the censorship of one of its articles. The censored article had quoted a political adviser speaking on the need to allow free expression of suggestions for Chinese leaders on how to improve governance. Caixin’s report on the censorship was itself deleted hours after it was posted online.
On Friday, a letter criticizing censorship at Xinhua circulated widely online. It was attributed to a man who said he worked for the state news agency. In a phone interview with The New York Times, he confirmed that he had written the letter but declined to discuss its contents with a foreign news organization.