The Chinese government has been heralding its “train to the roof of the world,” the $4 billion Qinghai-Xizang railway to the Tibetan plains that is the latest flash point with environmentalists. Environmentalists objected on various grounds to the project, including its destruction of pristine areas and specific threat to the struggling Chinese antelope. The concerns for both were quickly extinguished with a remarkable picture of antelope gingerly running under the elevated tracks of the train in an otherwise perfect nature scene. The only problem is that Liu Weiqing’s photograph (which won various awards) is a fake.
The picture was just what the Chinese government needed to mollify critics. It appears with the caption: “Qinghai-Tibet railway opens green passage for wildlife.” Once again, the power of the Internet proved too much for propaganda. Various naturists immediately noticed strange aspects of the scene, including the fact that the pictured herd seem composed in large part of pregnant mothers with no young — at a time in the season when antelope have already given birth.
For his part, Liu Weiqing seemed more intent on justifying the government project than recording its impact. In accepting awards and accolades, the photographer explained “I wanted to capture the harmony among the Tibetan antelope, the train, men and nature.” He appears to have been able to do that with an airbrush and government support.
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