In a country where journalists are thrown behind bars for challenging the government’s authority, one can bet a reporter would find himself in deep trouble if he criticizes the president. Even if it were unintentional.
China’s state-run news agency on Sunday published an article in which a typo referred to President Xi Jinping as “China’s last leader.” Xinhua later amended the copy and urged other media outlets to change the reference to “China’s top leader.”
Some publications simply deleted Sunday’s article covering China’s annual National People’s Congress. However, the original copy had been widely circulated by the time Xinhua announced the error.
In the past, journalists have lost their jobs over similar mistakes. In December, four journalists were fired after the state-run China News Service reported Xi’s “resignation” instead of his “speech” during the president’s tour of Africa.
Although such errors are extremely rare in China’s heavily-regulated media, the most recent mishap isn’t too difficult to understand. Both references differ by a single character. It’s not clear who was directly responsible for the error.
The Chinese government has been tightening its grip on its country’s media, already considered one of the most highly censored in the world. Xi recently toured newsrooms demanding “absolute loyalty” to the ruling communist party. In 2015 alone, 25 journalists were jailed for various offenses related to defying the government.