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Floating Chinese Government Officials is an exploitable photoshop meme that involves placing three Chinese officials in various backdrops and situations. The fad began in June 2011 after a news photograph of Chinese government officials inspecting a construction site was debunked as a photoshopped image by the Internet users.
On June 16th, 2011, a photograph of three Chinese officials standing on a road was posted via China’s Huili County Government official website, accompanied by the caption: “County mayor Li Ningyi and vice-mayor Tang Xiaobing are inspecting the newly constructed country road at Lihong Town."
The picture certainly portrayed the men, and the road, but the officials appeared to be levitating several inches above the tarmac. As photographic fakery goes it was astonishingly clumsy.
On June 26th, 2011, a Tianya Club forum member posted the image with the title “Too fake: the propaganda photo for our county”:
“I had nothing to do today so I visited the website for our county government. The headline story was about the upgrade for the road to the countryside. I looked at the photo and I almost coughed out half a liter of blood! Even a rank amateur like myself can tell that this was a PhotoShop job, and they had the nerve to put this on the home page!”
According to China Buzz, Hiuli officials posted an apology to the Chinese social networking site Weibo on June 27th, 2011. The officials further explained that the three county officials did visit the site, but none of the photographs taken during the inspection were suitably impressive for publication.
“A government employee posted the edited picture out of error… The county government understands the wide attention, and hope to apologise for and clarify the matter,” a Huili official told the state-run Xinhua news agency.
The Guardian – Chinese faked photograph leaves officials on street of shame / 6/29/2011