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Chinese Netizens React: People’s Daily Fooled by The Onion

It’s all over the news now: Chinese newspaper People’s Daily made a fool of itself this week when it seriously reported that the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was named Sexiest Man Alive by The Onion, a satire newspaper from the United States. Since it went online, international media such as The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal all picked up the news. The Telegraph in the United Kingdom followed up with an editor from People’s Daily, and quoted him saying, he hoped the incident would not draw too much attention (the story has since been taken down).

It seems too late already, the news not only spread far and wide in international media, but also went viral on Weibo, China’s Twitter. When an active netizen “Pretend in NY” first shared the news on Weibo, it triggered over 40,000 reposts and 7,900 comments.

Netizen “Pretend in NY” shared foreign media's comments on Chinese social media

Many Chinese had a good laugh about it. Some felt shameful and criticized the government; still some got really angry and questioned the intentions of foreign media.

A Dash of Humor and Satire 

OnionWeekly wrote sarcastically:


Late in the evening, we learned that The Onion and People’s Daily had been communicating on an official level, and People’s Daily has received high praise from The Onion. We are pleased to announce that The Onion Weekly and the People’s Daily represent the most authentic voice of China.

Talking about work at the library echoed:


People’s Daily thought themselves the best parody site, yet they didn’t realize there’s always competition. This time they had nothing to say but to delete it in silence.

Veteran journalist and researcher Xu Shenghai commented:

余胜海: 中朝两国只会相互吹捧,去年朝鲜媒体竟然说中国是世界上最民主最幸福的国家,美国是最不民主最不幸福的国家,真搞笑!

Chinese and North Korean like to kiss ass with each other, last year North Korea even said China is the most democratic country in the world and America is the least democratic country, which is ridiculous!

gdaygluck made a funny joke:


The editors at People’s Daily are too busy studying the Party spirit everyday, how do they have time to know that what onions or potatoes are about except to eat them.

Nobody Reads People's Daily? 

Liang Weihao, editor at Central Broadcasting Station wrote:

梁卫浩: 全世界媒体都被嘲笑了,他们竟以为中国网民会相信人民网。

All foreign media are to be laughed at, because they even think we Chinese read People’s Daily.

Xunxi’s sheep dad echoed:


People’s Daily just wanted more attention, because usually nobody reads them.

Voices of Criticism 

News Lecturer Yi Qiliang commented:


This is an innocent mistake, which can be forgiven because People’s Daily can learn more by broadening its view, however, Kim Jong-un is a power maniac, it’s an insult to beauty to even think of him as sexy, don’t editors at People’s Daily have a sense of what beauty is? It’s disgusting to think that they adore naked power.

Taorock No 2 was upset:


Look, the party paper made a mistake, international media are making fun of us Chinese. What does People’s Daily have anything to do with us average citizens? We Chinese have to deal with so much shit on behalf of the Party for so many years.

 Between Light & Dark criticized:

黑暗与光明之间: 可见中国官媒的固步自封到了什么程度.

You can see just how complacent the official Chinese media have become.

A Sense of Nationalism 

 Xu Jinbo, Asia News agency chief was obviously angry:


Japanese media are evil, People’s Daily just reported the news about Kim Jong-un as “most good-looking man,” and these TV stations and newspapers keep attacking us, they point their fingers directly at the Party newspaper. People's Daily should persuade central authorities to block these reactionary media and forbid them to attend important press conferences!

Democratic Rice retorted:


Why ban them? Because it is criticism from Japan? Is this is a customary practice in China? People's Daily, as an authoritative media source made this absurd mistake, they should reflect on their mistakes. Flies don’t bite seamless eggs; a so-called big country should accept criticism.

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