BEIJING China's Defence Ministry apologised on Thursday for allowing a badly photoshopped picture of navy ships and fighter jets to appear on its social media accounts over the weekend, after hundreds of people poured scorn on the image.
The picture, which appeared on the ministry's Weibo and WeChat accounts on Sunday to mark the navy's 68th birthday, showed fighter jets over the country's first aircraft carrier, with two other warships in the background along with two ghostly looking submarines.
Internet users were quick to point out though the two warships were probably U.S. vessels, that one of the aircraft shown was a Russian MiG-35 and that the three other fighter jets were land-based J-10s rather than the carrier-based J-15s.
The image was also mocked for looking cheap and unprofessional.
Speaking at a monthly news briefing, ministry spokesman Yang Yujun admitted that the image was "not meticulous" and that it had been criticised by internet users.
"The carelessness was with the editor, the responsibility is on the shoulders of the leadership," Yang said, adding he was "sincerely sorry".
Neither the image nor the critical comments would be removed as they could serve as a warning, Yang said.
Users of Weibo, China's answer to Twitter, had expressed amazement that the military, which is normally so sensitive about its image, had allowed the picture to appear.
"Those propaganda guys are weak in the head. They need to go after them for not doing their job," wrote one Weibo user.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)