A photo meant to highlight the bravery and adaptability of China’s military members has apparently created a public outrage instead.
The image of Chinese soldiers using dirty water to cook noodles was meant to showcase a display of the “soldiers’ bravery” by the state-run media sources Chinese National Radio and the Global Times Newspaper, according to the BBC.
“These men stood tall in the face of adversity with or without clean water,” state-run media reported.
The picture of Chinese soldiers responding to an earthquake in China’s Yunnan province, was met with derision by users of the Chinese social media site Weibo who saw the photo as a lack of concern for the well-being of the soldiers and as an indication of the preparedness of China’s military.
The website Offbeat China captured much of the outrage:
Instead of patriotism, the article drew waves of questions and criticism: “It’s 2014, and our soldiers are still drinking muddy water during mission. How can we trust such a military force to defend our country during war?” “Water filters and tablets are technologies of the last century, and yet our soldiers are still cooking with muddy water in 2014. Where do the millions of military expenses go?” “What to applaud when the lives of our soldier are put at the risk of unclean drinking water in the field?”
The classic propaganda push for citizens to be inspired by brave soldiers using disgusting water without complaint, it seems, has completely backfired.
“If this happened in a democracy, someone would have to resign,” one user commented on China’s Weibo social network.
“Where’s their water purifier? Please don’t tell me they left in a rush. The army is built to respond to emergencies. What happens if the enemy launches a surprise attack?” asked Fan Jianchuan, who owns a museum complex in Sichuan province and once taught at a military college, according to the LA Times.
Chinese media later tried to claim the photo was fake, before finally issuing an apology.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.