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Fake News in Beijing

Fake News in Beijing -

Hong Kong actor Andy Lau (Liu Dehua – 刘德华) is one of Asia’s most successful stars, revered not only for a host of great films, but also for his renowned work ethic. That’s why Beijing Made Easy was shocked when a subway newspaper vendor announced that he had been shot dead on his birthday.

It seemed odd that nobody else on the tube was excited what would doubtless become the major entertainment news story of the year. So I dutifully handed over my 1 RMB to the vendor and read the news story.

For his birthday Lau was holding a party in one of Hong Kong’s top hotels and all of the film industry’s old hands and rising stars were invited. In the middle of the party Lau received a phone call and told his friends he would be back shortly.

Expecting a rendezvous under a bridge, he was instead shot dead, perhaps because of his involvement in a love triangle with members of two of Hong Kong’s most notorious triads.

Or at least, that’s what the newspaper said.

It later transpired that the story was entirely fake, printed by an underground newspaper that ensures good sales by simply making up good stories.

More observant readers (with better Chinese) will have noticed that the language of the entire newspaper was rather sloppy and full of grammatical errors, and there was no date.

The newspaper usually runs the same story for about one month, then changes to a new one. The headline usually involves major stars and death or sex, and the rest of the newspaper centres around rape, robbery and murder.

The paper is distributed by a shadowy and close-knit underground organisation where vendors often have no idea who their superiors are. They pre-order a certain number of papers which are then delivered to their house in the night.

The police are unable to find where the newspapers are printed because vendors refuse to talk and profits are high in comparison the fines the police can give them.

For a great and really in depth article on these newspapers, visit East South West North

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