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Tibet exhibitor wants retraction for misleading caption by foreign press
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An organizer of an exhibition to demonstrate Tibet's 50 years of achievement on Thursday requested a correction and apology from Agence France-Presse (AFP) for a misleading caption that said the Chinese army used weapons in the 1959 Tibetan rebellion that were actually used by rebels.

Some captured weapons used by rebels during the failed armed rebellion in the Himalayan region in 1959 are displayed in the exhibit titled "50th Anniversary of Democratic Reforms in Tibet" that has been in running Beijing since Feb. 24.

But the caption to a photo published by the AFP March 1 said "a visitor looks at guns used by Chinese soldiers" in the "exhibition opened to mark the 60th anniversary of the Chinese invasion of Tibet".

"We ask that AFP make an official correction and apology, and explain the reason for the mistake in its photo caption," said Yong Jirong, head of museum of the Cultural Palace of Nationalities, one of the exhibition's organizers.

"Such distorted information should not be conveyed to the French people and other people in the world," Yong said.

The free exhibit, which features more than 180 historical relics, files, installations and about 500 documentary pictures, has attracted more than 44,000 visitors.

In the center room of the museum, the captured weapons, a U.S.-made Thompson submachine gun, a British-made Bren machine gun and other three handguns, are displayed in an enclosed glass case. Beside each of the weapons, there is a description card telling the name of the weapon, who used it and when in both Chinese and English.

"I don't know whether the photographer had read those cards before taking the pictures, maybe he or she could not understand either Chinese or English," the museum's head said.

"But I believe that the AFP is a quite influential international news agency and as responsible media entity, it should not mislead the public readers with such mistaken report."

The first Chinese reader to find the incorrect caption on the AFP's Web site was Sun Xiaomei. She posted on www.huanqiu.com "what kind of message is the AFP sending by allowing this photographer to turn a blind eye to the distinct description cards that were clearly displayed with the weapons?"

Xiao Wei, a visitor to the exhibit, told Xinhua Friday that his colleagues and he were indignant when they saw Sun's online exposure of the mistaken report.

"Some foreign media would deliberately twist the facts or deliver distorted reports on Tibet -- just like what some media did after the March 14 riot in Lhasa last year since they have strong bias against China," Xiao said.

A staffer at the AFP's Beijing bureau surnamed Li told Xinhua on Thursday that China's Foreign Ministry made a call to the bureau to bring attention to the mistake on Monday. The bureau had also contacted the photographer.

But the staffer said he did not know whether the AFP would make a correction and explain the cause that led to the mistake.

Professor Gao Gang with the Journalism School of Beijing-based Renmin University of China told Xinhua that foreign media's distorted report violates professional guideline and ethics for journalism which have been widely accepted by the international press circle.

"A report that is misleading the world on China and Chinese people is totally unacceptable," Gao said.

(Xinhua News Agency March 14, 2009)

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