Chinese Government Embarrassed After ‘Miniature Woman’ Photoshop Fail


If you’re looking to make an argument for the inherent superiority of Western-style capitalism, consider how difficult it apparently is to find a competent Photoshop jockey in the Communist world.

The latest example comes from the Eastern provinces of China, where what was supposed to be a heartwarming record of regional officials honoring the elderly turned into an internationally recognized example of how not to doctor a photograph.

The image, published on the Web site of the Civil Affairs department for the city of Ningguo and widely shared elsewhere, was supposed to show the city’s deputy mayor and three other officials paying their respects to a 103-year-old female resident of the city. It was subtly captioned:  “Love and consideration for the elderly is a cherished Chinese tradition. They should feel the warmth of the party and the government.”

What the photo actually shows is three of the officials standing on a deck, and one hovering legless in the air, all circled around and smiling at one-third-size replica of an elderly woman. Note also the subtle gradations in lighting between the honoree and the honorers, and the way the porch railing seems to magically pierce one man’s ghostly figure.

The culprit was identified as Xu Feiyu., director of Ningguo’s Aging Office, who explained that he had trouble fitting the government dignitaries and the old woman in the same frame and figured some subtle post-processing work would take care of the problem. “So I put the two pictures together,” he said on state-run TV, according to the Wall Street Journal. “At the time I didn’t think there would be such a big reaction.”

Ningguo officials were not amused. “We have decided to publicly admonish the Civil Affairs Bureau and the person responsible, Xu Feiyu,” read one of several statements on the city’s Web site, reported the WSJ. “We hope all departments will learn a lesson from this incident and be even more rigorous in checking the information they publish.


Other notable Photoshop fails from the Far East include a horrible clone-stamp job by North Korea to beef up the apparent size of its hovercraft fleet and an amazing Chinese tutorial on spontaneous levitation.

(via Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times)

  • bob cooley

    I find this ironic, since I’m always receiving spam from Chinese retouching services trying to get me to send my post work to them…

  • Sure

    And how this is supposed to embarrass the whole government?

  • Richard Ford

    Umm…. this latest effort was not an intent to deceive. It was meant to be a “Collage” – a bad one – as they didn’t take the correct photo’s at the time or could not fit them in. If anything it is the photogs fault. So before you start jumping up at down all tall poppy like to feel bettr about yourselves, just remember who owes who a few trillion dollars in debt and just what the real story here is.

    The second lot – yes old news and even the Chinese themselves have thousands of mashups of those three fellas. Check out if you want the actual real journalism on issues on China and not the xenophobic hand me down news given as an example in this post.

  • Adobe licensing

    pirate copy or legit version of photoshop?

  • Zos Xavius

    Which is why this image is prominently on the front page of chinasmack right? BTW. this is a photography related blog, not the wall street journal. what the united states may or may not owe china has nothing to do with photography or this story.

  • Richard Ford


  • Richard Ford

    “If you’re looking to make an argument for the inherent superiority of Western-style capitalism, ”

    Riiiight. Sorry – you are correct. This is a tennis serving ball machine only. It does’t return serve….

  • ninpou_kobanashi

    “Umm…. this latest effort was not an intent to deceive. It was meant to be a “Collage”

    That was my first thought, just looking at the image. I can’t imagine anyone actually trying to pass this off as an actual taken photo.

  • Mike

    A Chinese knockoff named Otoshop.

  • Casey Prout

    Someone please buy China wide angle lens!

  • Attila Volgyi

    I remember some US government officials thinking photoshopping someone on a group photo being no problem.
    I also remember some bilion dollar companies faking photos – doing it poorly and having to excuse for doing so.
    I also remember quite some western photographers altering photos and think it shall be ok even after they signed terms forbidding this.

    I think stupidity knows no borders and deserves the ridicule regardless of nationality.

  • wickerprints

    There is no better proof of this principle as it applies to photographic retouching run amok than the venerable site

  • Zos Xavius

    I love that site. Gonna have to take another look……

  • Hannes

    Sorry, but these postings about “stupid Chinese/Communist photoshop-idiots” are really embarrassing and nothing but unreflected prejudice! I mean: do you really think a badly photoshopped photo reflects the problems of a whole country hosting and reigning 1.3 billion people? I know, you would never agree to this, you’d say it’s kind of an internet-meme … but I think, it’s a bit disrespectful.
    Every 12-year old American knows how to photoshop. Chinese people are not dumb.They do know how to photoshop. You just found one who doesn’t …

    If you find a badly photoshopped photo from somebody coming from, say, Alabama, the Scottish Highlands, Brandenburg or any provincial region where – as we now – “photoshop crimes” are not too rare, you would say: what a jerk, what a badly photoshopped image. If it comes from China, the subtle message is: “Oh man, what a bad country China is … these idiots”.

    There is a subtle tendency towards latent racism in memes and postings like this, in my opinion …
    (apart from that – great blog, I read it every day :))

  • madmax

    Really. This post is nonsense.

  • Steve

    Agreed, that first paragraph makes pretty painful reading.

  • Bob R

    You would have to be a complete and utter moron… Or either have never used digital photo software in your life, to make a mistake like that. My 4 year old nephew could do a WAY better job.

  • Andres Trujillo

    You must be a hit at parties

  • Andrew Iverson

    I’m reminded of the disasters that had schools photoshop minorities into shots of students, also badly,

  • bob cooley

    lol – I got a downvote for that? Wow – someone lacks a sense of humor; and for the record, I AM always receiving spam from Chinese retouching services, that’s actually true…

  • BigEnso

    Again demonstrating the high quality of everything Made in China. LOL

  • james

    Really? I wonder do you even know how much of what you own is made in China…your iphone for example.
    Cringeworthy petapixel post bordering on racism.

  • BigEnso

    Racism? Surely you are joking. The inability to make quality products (or to Photoshop images) has nothing to do with race.

    And iPhones are a particularly bad choice to use for an example. They are assembled in China, not made in China. Most, if not all, of the components are made in other countries. The only reason that the iPhones assembled in China are of high quality is because they are subject to external quality control standards of the customer (i.e. Apple) rather than Chinese quality control standards, if in fact those actually exist.

  • Scott M.
    Check it out. Fails in PS from all over, especially in the USA. I think you will feel better. The Chinese photoshop fails are an internet meme. Why? because they are spectacular in just how bad they are. North Korea is really bad too. We used to make fun of the Russians making people disapear in old group photos based on politics. The English are such a nanny state they made Churchills’ cigar disapear. All fails and funny because they try to get away with it. And get caught. BTW, the owner of this blog is asian (I assume by his name) I am sure he approved the article. It is very funny if you lighten up. Everything is not racism.

  • Richard Ford

    Sure, if logical rigour and crass generalisations aren’t the theme.

  • Richard Ford

    I thought he was American? Are you now trying to mix ethnicity with nationality as well? FFS – please remove foot from mouth. You proved the point of @Hannes tacitly in your response. Latent racism at its best.

  • Richard Ford

    You have a deep understanding of the modern supply chain do you I see?

  • Richard Ford

    BTW why is “Western Style” hyphenated? Is there some confusion over the context?

  • Scott M.

    What are you defending? Communism? I give up.

  • Richard Ford

    Oh god. Yes, thats it. I’m defending communism. Seriously are you 80 years old and still thinking it is1960? Communism. THAT is what you draw from this discussion?

  • Scott M.

    What are you defending then? I really am confused. It isn’t ethnicity, so what is it you are so upset about? I am not anti Chinese, I am very impressed with their economic progress. This is about crude photoshop fails, which in any country is funny to see.

  • Richard Ford

    Your point re photoshop is true. You then however go on in the one sentence to say that it is not racism and then label the owner Chinese based on his name. Do you not see the tacit racism there? Does it matter if his name is Zhang, Montgomery or Reichman? Do some people have an authority over making racism remarks or approvals, even if subtly due to some DNA delivered authority on the matter?

  • Andres Trujillo

    Dude, every time there has been a blatant/shitty use of Photoshop, or post processing. The community at large has made fun of it. All of the sudden, this is too much for some… It was a joke article, and you had your chance to sound off… Why did you again take it so seriously, is still beyond me

  • Trausti Hraunfjord

    If you REALLY believed that production of quality had nothing to do with race, then why in the hell did you choose to say:
    “Again demonstrating the high quality of everything Made in China. LOL”

    You ARE trying to be satirical on account of the Chinese people. For your information: Chinese are a RACE of people. You don’t wash off your racism by adding a splash of ignorance.

    I have several very good quality products made in China. I have also knowledge of some extremely bad products made in China. I have owned many US made cars, and I know for a fact that buying Chinese cars would be a far better choice, since American cars are pure crap.

    Just because you can find crap products from whatever part of the world, does not grant you the right to open up your racism floodgates.

    Think before you write….. even Americans can do that … sometimes (you see how it is to be soiled like that?).

  • pgb0517

    Given our Party Regime’s inability to put up a working healthcare Web site — and that does embarrass the whole government, if not the whole country — I’d take bad Photoshop skills any day.

  • BigEnso

    Yes, actually I do.. Thank you for noticing.

  • Richard Ford

    “If you’re looking to make an argument for the inherent superiority of Western-style capitalism, consider how difficult it apparently is to find a competent Photoshop jockey in the Communist world.”

    WTF has that got to do with photoshop fails?

  • Richard Ford

    Riiight. I must have met you then at one of the many expat social events right? You know – with all those Germans and Japanese engineers that run these global supply chains.

  • Richard Ford

    That and not having your arse handed to you in 4 wars straight in the past 50 years.

  • BigEnso

    (Unless you speak Japanese, it is unlikely we would have met there)

  • Andres Trujillo

    “WTF has that got to do with photoshop fails?”

    Probably less to nothing, maybe just a hint of the author’s political preference, at best, a poor tought out joke. The thing is, I noticed that there was more to the article than the header of it, and it ain’t gonna win a Pulitzer, but i guess the author knew that too, so it is a silly article about another Chinese “official” Photoshop fail (we have our owns, don’t we?)

    You’re overreacting over a lil, silly, thing.

  • Ross E. Watts

    my Aunty Emily just got a nice 9 month old Buick LaCrosse Sedan just by some part-time working online. my latest blog post R­i­n­g­7­7­.­c­o­ℳ

  • Richard Ford

    Possibly. Though I can’t stand useless white westerners that somehow think they are superior to others – yet are themselves soft and non important and claim favour to the achievements of their grand parents and others in their western society as if it was of their own making. I don’t want western civilisation to fail. but with people like this author, I would hold my hopes in check.

  • crouchy35

    Desperately defending yourself against downvotes? Wow – someone takes themself a little too seriously.

  • crouchy35

    It was a tongue-in-cheek comment obviously….

  • Andres Trujillo

    Is he useless because he wrote a silly tongue in cheeck “joke” (hey, humor is like coffee, some like it light, some dark, and some drink tea…). or because you know something we’re not privy to that makes him so?

    People holding to the achievements of their grand parents isn’t a “Western” exclusive problem, and the fall of western civilization won’t br brought by a satire blog post, if at all (evolution or devolution =/= collapse).

    We need to recognize a joke for what it is, and stop being so overly sensitive (and this as an inmigrant, who had to face actual [as in, non jokingly], racism). Really, a “joke” shouldn’t take this much of anybody’s time (I will mention, the joke was at best, silly. not worth more than a chuckle).