As tensions simmer in Beijing over US Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s official visit to Taiwan, a photograph claiming to be the wedding picture of the leader and a Chinese journalist Hu Xijin began doing the rounds on social media.
The photograph shows a young Pelosi with Xijin in a black and white photograph. Some coloured versions of the same picture are also doing the round. However, according to reports, the picture is fake and photoshopped.
Deutsche Welle, a German news website, in its fact-check of the photo, found it to be photoshopped. According to its report, the post, which appeared on social media amid numerous other false stories, was made up of two older photographs that have been combined: of a young Nancy Pelosi and Xijin. In the original picture of Pelosi, she is not with Xijin, but with her family, including her father, Thomas D’Alesandro Jr, who was also a US politician.
Pelosi, third from left, captioned the photo “With family as a young girl” on Flickr. It was also on one of her campaign pages. The picture:
The second image depicts a young Hu Xijin. A reverse image by Welle yielded a tweet from the journalist himself, in which he writes about his time in the Chinese military (“unforgettable years”) and includes the photo that now appears in the alleged wedding photograph.
The report also stated having performed forensic image analysis and to have discovered various colour compositions, indicating a different pixel composition and thus a manipulation. This reveals the image to be a forgery, the report said, which some users mistook for satire while others assumed was genuine.
Another red flag pointed out by the news portal was the age difference between the two individuals: Pelosi is 82 years old, while Hu Xijin is 20 years younger.
Pelosi is similar in age to the alleged wedding picture in a 1960 photo with late US President John F. Kennedy. Xijin had only recently been born in 1960.
According to the report, Internet users apparently intended this as a joke. Hu Xijin has been a harsh critic of Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, and on the Chinese social media platform Weibo, he has called for “military countermeasures” if Pelosi visits Taiwan because this is “the only language that the US and Taiwan understand.”
On Twitter, he even suggested that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army “shoot down” Pelosi’s plane en route to Taiwan if she did not return. His Twitter account was temporarily blocked as a result, and Xijin deleted the tweet.
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