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Altered picture opens eyes

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James Reynolds | 11:36 UK time, Monday, 5 January 2009

If you watch the Chinese state TV news, you might get the impression that Chinese officials have more stamina than anyone else in the world. Almost every evening here, news bulletins show rows and rows of officials faithfully listening to long speeches made by Communist Party leaders. The TV pictures show the officials carefully noting down their leaders' words for further study later on. None of the officials ever shows any trace of boredom whatsoever - no matter how long or how dreary the speech they're listening to. Compare this to the House of Lords in the UK where for many years the standard listening position bore a striking resemblance to the dozing position.

But occasionally there's a bit of a slip. Have a look at these two versions of a single picture taken at a conference on commercial scams held in China's southern province of Yunnan.

The first version shows the man in the the blue t-shirt with his eyes comfortably shut. Look closely at the man to his right - he may have his eyes closed as well. This picture was originally put up on an official propaganda noticeboard. It's not the kind of thing you tend to see in the official media (you can get into serious trouble here for sleeping during a conference.) The authorities were informed. This embarrassing version was quickly replaced by the new, improved version reprinted below it. This time the gentlemen's eyes are open - painted open, say Chinese bloggers. It's one way to look interested.


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