China Upset Over Photos of its Olympic Athletes Being “Unflattering”

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The Chinese Ministry Of Foreign affairs protested this week via its consulate in Sri Lanka; they claimed that Reuters, as well as other mainstream media agencies, were purposely using unpleasant images of Chinese Athletes in their reporting of the Olympic Games.

The shot that sparked the embassy staff reaction has been of Chinese weightlifter medalist Hou Zhihui, who’d been photographed during the middle of her lift.

The usage of the picture, which emphasized Hou’s muscles, was generally considered as insulting, according to the government propagandist publication Global Times; although it can only cite a statement from the Chinese embassy on social media and unidentified users on Chinese social media channels.


The Chinese government tightly controls the country’s social media sites, allowing only those with ties to the state to express themselves; any opposition is met with censorship and, in many cases, police action.


The Chinese Claim Western Media is Targeting Their Athletes

The Global Times reported that mainstream Western news outlets like CNN and Reuters are often seen unjustly targeting China throughout their reporting of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, provoking criticism from Chinese citizens and embassies. 

It did not provide any instances of CNN content that was offensive to Chinese sportsmen. The Sri Lankan embassy ascribed Reuters’ photo selection to “politics and ideologies,” but did not elaborate.

The netizens who joined in the assault on Reuters reportedly branded the photo selection “evil” and said they were part of a conspiracy to “slander and discredit” Chinese sportsmen. One user commented to the Chinese High commissioner on Twitter.

This user argued that the picture illustrates that “hardly anything good in life came naturally” and was nice to the athlete, as it emphasized her work and effort. Chinese nationals do not have access to social media if they are high-ranking government officials.

The embassy responded by claiming that Reuters’ prejudice was demonstrated by the use of flattering photos of “western people.”

They are Contradicting Themselves

The Hong Kong Free Media noted that the Chinese government had not yet clarified why propaganda news channels were using the insulting picture of Hou in their reportage; this comes despite the Chinese authorities using a good picture of a Chinese sportsman to assert that Reuters was purposely making Chinese sportsmen look terrible.

The government Xinhua News Agency & China Daily both used identical pictures in their story, according to HKFP. After the Chinese regime’s objection over Reuters, the publications since changed the image.

The Global Times filed a complaint about CNN on its own, not because of a photo, but rather a title that read, “Gold for China… and much more COVID-19 infections.”

The Global Times objected to the headline of this article’s association of the Chinese influenza virus with China, the flu virus source. The title on CNN has recently been amended to ‘The first week of the 2020 Olympics opens with Gold medals for China and far more COVID-19 instances,’ implying that the incidents are occurring in the Olympics host country, Japan.