(Not sure if this is the right forum, but I thought it was worth putting somewhere)
From The Daily Telegraph, 13th May.
A translator's error sends currency markets reeling
By Richard Spencer in Beijing (Filed: 13/05/2005)
Communist China may have moved confidently into the bright new dawn of capitalism, but some of its more venerable institutions are finding it hard to keep up.
People's Daily, the official Party newspaper still scoured by China-watchers for hints as to the leadership's thinking, was writhing with embarrassment yesterday after a mistranslation led to chaos on the world's currency markets.
A report on its English-language website saying the government would revalue its currency, the yuan, next week was flashed by news agencies to exchanges in Hong Kong, London and New York.
The dollar sank, the yen rose, and even the Indian rupee rallied, and it seemed as if the Chinese government had finally given in to calls from American politicians to allow the yuan to float higher.
Eventually, late on Wednesday, the People's Bank of China had to issue an urgent denial that any such move had been announced.
Yesterday, attention focused on a man named only as Han, a retired People's Daily editor who supplements his pension translating articles into English for the website. This is a new venture supposed to show the paper is moving with the times.
"We have never had an accident like this before," said one editor there. "The management are considering whether Mr Han should be punished, but they don't know what to do as they have never encountered anything like this before."
The article translated by Mr Han was all the more believable because of its precision, even if the English was a little garbled. It said the yuan would be allowed to rise by 1.26 pc within a month and 6.03 pc in a year.
It was picked up by the Bloomberg newswire, and seen on traders' screens across the world. But some in Shanghai, at least, conscious that even the new-look Communist Party has a greater sense of occasion than this, smelled a rat.
The puzzlement expressed by desk officers at the People's Bank was quickly followed up by a little bit of digging. This showed the original article was a Chinese-language piece from the Hong Kong bureau of the China News Service, a semi-official agency, laying out a variety of analysts' views.
When Mr Han was sent the article, he appeared not to understand it fully - and in any case, left out the attribution to researchers.
The error is a remarkable insight among other things into the changing face of the media, which remains state-owned but is now encouraged to make a profit.
The People's Daily, whose print edition is still a heavyweight, not to say unreadable, compendium of Party leaders' meetings and speeches, is not excluded.
The website is a livelier attempt to attract advertising, but like many of its competitors often relies on plagiarism and quick "turnarounds" of other newspapers' work.
[Edited at 2005-05-13 16:23]
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