Hong Kong’s leading English-language daily the South China Morning Post apologized yesterday after a photo caption misidentified China’s President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) as a jailed human rights campaigner.
The front-page caption on its Tuesday edition — which accompanied a photo of Hu arriving at Andrews Air Force Base before his meeting with US President Barack Obama — put a Chinese name in brackets after “President Hu Jintao.”
However, instead of printing Hu’s Chinese name, the name of prominent activist Hu Jia (胡佳) appeared.
“The South China Morning Post sincerely apologises for the Chinese name translation error for President Hu Jintao in yesterday’s paper,” the newspaper wrote on its front page.
Copies of the Tuesday edition of the Post sold in Beijing had the Chinese characters for Hu Jia blacked out.
Hu Jia, 36, was a campaigner for human rights and AIDS victims in China before he was jailed in April 2008 for three-and-a-half years on a charge of inciting subversion, a vague charge that critics say is used to silence dissenters.
Before his imprisonment, Hu was also a key source of information for foreign media on human rights and environmental violations, government abuses, judicial injustices and mistreatment of dissidents.
On Monday, his wife, Zeng Jinyan (曾金燕), said that Chinese authorities had turned down the activist’s plea for medical parole. She said he was suffering from a serious liver disease that could lead to cancer.
The newspaper was not immediately available for comment.
While the mistake was embarrassing, it would have carried more serious consequences if it occurred in a state-owned mainland Chinese news outlet.
As part of its semi-autonomous status under Chinese rule, the former British colony enjoys Western-style civil liberties like freedom of press and has a thriving press independent of government control.
The Post is controlled by Malaysian tycoon Robert Kuok.
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