Old TV screenshot doctored to show 'military clash' in China's Henan province in 2022

·3 min read

Social media posts purport to show a news report by Chinese state-owned broadcaster CCTV about "armed resistance" of corrupt officials against government arrest in Henan province in January 2022. However, the posts are likely satirical; the screenshot of the purported news report has been doctored to combine a fabricated headline and unrelated photos.

"Henan officials have begun armed resistance!" reads a Chinese-language tweet posted on January 5, 2022.

The screenshot appears to show Chinese news anchor Ouyang Xiadan presenting a report showing a photo of soldiers surrounding a truck.

Chinese characters superimposed at the top of the screenshot read: "Big operation to crack down on tigers...2022.01.04".

The term 'crack down on tigers' appears to be a reference to corrupt high-ranking officials.

The news ticker reads: "Henan corrupt officials collectively resist arrest and counter-attack the central government / Corrupt officials spent a fortune hiring mercenaries, constant gunfire at the scene".

Henan is a province in central China.

The tweet was posted by New York-based activist Xie Wanjun, chairman of the banned China Democracy Party who has more than 40,000 followers on Twitter.

Screenshot taken on January 6, 2022, of the misleading Twitter post

The same image circulated on Facebook and Gettr, a platform launched in July 2021 by a former Trump adviser.

The posts appeared to mislead some social media users.

"The officials can barely survive. If Xi forces them to rebel, then they have to rebel," one person commented.

"They're going to die anyway, so they fight the government," another wrote.

Many other users appeared to take the posts as a joke.

"Can this photoshop be more fake?" one social media user wrote.

"He has no other news to make up now haha," another said.

However, the image has been manipulated.

Unrelated photo

A reverse image search and keyword search found the photo of soldiers surrounding a truck was taken in 2008 by Reuters news agency in Mexico, not in China.

The photo caption reads: "Federal police agents and soldiers take part in a police operation set up after a shooting with unknown assailants at a wealthy neighbourhood in Monterrey, northern Mexico October 16, 2008. REUTERS/Tomas Bravo".

Below is a screenshot comparison of the armed forces photo in misleading posts (left) and the photo by Reuters (right).

Screenshot comparison of the armed forces photo in the misleading posts (L) and the photo uploaded by Reuters (R)

Doctored screenshot

Reverse image searches and keyword searches found the screenshot of Ouyang Xiadan presenting a news bulletin featured in a report by Taiwan-based newspaper Apple Daily on August 13, 2011 about her see-through top.

The CCTV news bulletin featuring Ouyang was reportedly removed from the broadcaster's website following controversy over her attire.

The same image also circulated on Chinese sites as early as January 2011, including here and here.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the image shared in misleading posts (left) and the photo shared on the Chinese sites in 2011 (right).

In the original broadcast, Ouyang can be seen reporting with no news ticker about Henan officials or a photo of armed militants on the left side.

Ouyang's image was used in various memes, including here and here.

AFP found no credible news article about an armed resistance of officials against government in China's Henan province in 2022.

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