Doctored News Photo Covers Up Government Involvement

The first day of the New Year witnessed the shocking tragedy of the death of a 16-year-old kid at the hands of a traffic patrol vehicle in Sichuan. What made everything worse was the media response afterwards by which newspaper photos were deliberately doctored using PhotoShop to remove the label “路政巡查” [Road Administration Patrol] on the vehicle, in a possible effort to mask any official/governmental links to the accident. This outraged the locals as well as the online community, where many expressed anger and contempt for such shameless cover-up to mislead the public.

From Tianya:

On the afternoon of January 1st at 2:20 pm, 2010; directly facing the Huidong South Lake Gymnasium in Zigong County in Sichuan Province, a Road Administration Patrol vehicle struck and killed a 16-year-old young man — Cheng Zhuo. Witnesses at the scene claimed that the driver was driving under the influence of alcohol, although Zigong Police, at the moment, has not revealed the results of their investigation, and the issue of whether it was drunk driving awaits further investigation. However, the local media at Zigong chose to PhotoShop the photograph [of the accident] and publish it in the local paper, leading to shocking reactions from the public…

Here are the original photos from the scene of the accident. Clearly the words “路政巡查” are printed on the front of the patrol vehicle only to mysteriously disappear in the news photo.

Unidentified man in camouflage fatigues with a policeman shortly after the accident.

“Who is this?”

“This police officer should know what happened at the time.”

Picture as it appeared on the newspaper’s website.

Comments on Tianya :


Absurd, so shameless it is incomprehensible, all tmd crazy.


Shameless media, shameless reporter/prostitute.

Note: The ji (记) in “reporter” sounds the same as the ji (妓) in “prostitute”. The commenter intentionally used a pun.


Zigong’s “Daily Evening News” must take responsibility. Their workers can refuse to do such a thing, and doing what they are doing now can be suspected of the crime of forgery. Did the person who PS this consider this? By principle, if the Evening News workers all refused to make this kind of PS, then the paper’s boss can not manipulate things. Whoever wants to PS, and then the boss can tell the other side to do it themselves. One side is breaking the law, the other side is “opposing the leaders”, do you chose to break the law or to oppose the leaders? Do you choose the rule of law or the rule of man? Don’t say that the Evening News have no responsibility.


Hope there are no special privilege cars in heaven.

Patrol cars like the one involved in this accident typically have “special privileges” allowing them to disobey normal traffic rules.


Why erase the words “路政巡查”[Road Administration Patrol]? Where is the truth in the news? The related agencies must thoroughly investigate this event.


Ding, shameless scum, they must have received money to keep their mouth shut.


The news media were always the eunuchs of the Party.


A routine traffic accident, dragged into a storm of controversy from a photoshopped picture.


Law enforcement’s lack of justice and transparency makes me mad!


A child’s departures makes one grief, ZF‘s reaction makes one disheartened, the reports in the papers makes one angry!

The Victim: Cheng Zhuo

The student killed in the accident was named Cheng Zhuo. Here are some photos and achievements that Chinese netizens posted online following this incident:

Cheng Zhuo was an honor student with many academic awards.

Comments on QQ:


angry Immediately execute the driver of the car!!!


What a shame, a good student!


angrycry A car accident is already a heartbreaking tragedy, only to face alteration of the news! Where is the truth? Where is justice? Severely punish the perpetrators! Punish those tarnishing the image of the government! Save your own conscience, don’t you have families of your own?


Today’s society, can be so black.


In the eyes of those agencies in power, what worth do the lives of others have?

I predict they spent some stinkin’ money to marginalize/trivialize this whole event, making it unimportant.

The Official Government Response and Statement

From Sichuan News Online:

January 6th, Zigong (Liu Lin, Zhou Hanyu). January 1st, 2010, a traffic accident resulting in one death and one wounded at the Luisheng public bus stop on 33rd road in Zigong, has been brought into the attention of the Zigong Municipal Party Committee and Municipal Government. Committee leaders commented: “We must swiftly reach a conclusion, and severely deal with the problem, to give the public a proper answer.” The night of the 5th at 10:00 pm, Zigong government news bureau at Huidong Hotel held a news conference, informing the investigation results of the traffic accident.

Zigong Traffic Police, Huidong New District Traffic Police force announced the results of their investigation: The day they received the emergency call, the police on duty immediately reached the scene, to investigate and manage [the scene]. After investigation, [it was determined that] at around 2 pm, Sichuan Longhao Road Investment Company driver Liu Ning was driving a company vehicle, with the license plate C-45365, traveling along Huichuan Road toward the highway; upon reaching “Xiang Xie Li She” Hotel on Jingguan Boulevard and turning left into a non-vehicle road, he hit a man surnamed Wang and Cheng Zhuo waiting by the bus stop, then hitting a medium size truck, with the license plate C-10470, parked on the road, causing Cheng Zhuo to die at the scene, Wang injured, and two vehicles receiving different degrees of damage.

Official report of the accident

In addressing the citizen’s concerns of “whether the driver was driving under the influence of alcohol,” Huidong New District Traffic Police, Officer Cheng Zhong explained: The day of the incident, police immediately led the driver causing the accident Liu Ling to the hospital to take blood samples, and sent the samples to Sichuan Huaxi Medical Center for analysis. On January 4th, the analysis report showed that Liu Ling’s blood did not contain alcohol. Zigong Municipal Party Committee, Municipal Inspection Department, Chief Huang Yonghuai expressed: Our city’s inspection agencies highly value the importance of the incident on the first of January, sending someone specifically to investigate the issue of the vehicle causing the accident, which was printed with “路政巡查” [Road Administration Patrol] and “installed with law enforcement sirens”. After the problem is fully investigated, we will handle it according to the related laws and rules.

The driver suspected of causing the accident Liu Ling at the moment has already been detained. Under the care of related agencies the wounded have already received proper treatment. According to the specified procedures in handling this incident, Huidong New District Traffic Police have already on the 5th notified the concerned party with the accident report, autopsy report, and alcohol report. At the moment, this incident is still under investigation in accordance with the law.

Report indicate no alcohol was found in the driver's blood

Classmates Mourn The Student’s Death

Here are some pictures of Cheng Zhuo’s classmates mourning his death by lighting Kongming Lanterns by the bridge, as a way of lighting the path guiding him to heaven. Some classmates wrote their parting eulogy for their good friend.


Written by Joe

Joe is a documentary producer and journalist based in Shanghai


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