China, millions of copies of the People’s Daily destroyed: Xi’s name is missing

This could cost director Tuo Zhen his job

Millions of copies of the People’s Daily were shredded after mistakenly forgetting President Xi Jinping’s name in an article. According to what some sources told Radio Free Asia, the offending article would be an italics on page 5 of the March 30 edition: “Unity and struggle are the only way for the Chinese people to forge a historic enterprise ” where China’s successes under Xi were celebrated.

The error concerned only the paper version and the offending sentence was the following: “The central government with the comrade at the center evaluates the situation” where after the word “comrade” Xi’s name did not appear.

Despite the strict order of the authorities to keep the recall of copies confidential, an internal memo was leaked a few hours later which obliged the suspension of deliveries of the newspaper for distribution and the recall of the approximately three million copies already shipped.

Mistakes considered political incidents

Tuo Zhen, the current editor of the People’s Daily, could lose his job as a result of the incident. Under former Chairman Mao Zedong, these kinds of mistakes have also led to sanctions and charges of counter-revolutionary crimes.

According to a former night-shift editor of an official Chinese news outlet, the People’s Daily’s mistake caused “paralysis of the entire official propaganda apparatus, due to fears of potential fallout.”

The article in question was written by an author under the pseudonym “Ren Ping” whose identity has not been disclosed. “Whether or not the perpetrator is punished depends on Xi’s mood,” the editor finally underlined.

Radio Free Asia then highlighted that to avoid this kind of error: “The final draft of any article in the official Chinese media undergoes at least five editing before being published, but nobody in this case seems to have caught the mistake”.