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Photos show former US presidents visiting Western Wall in Jerusalem, not Great Wall of China

Photos show former US presidents visiting Western Wall in Jerusalem, not Great Wall of China - Featured image

Author(s): Kate TAN / AFP Australia

Pictures of former US presidents Barack Obama, Donald Trump, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush touching the Western Wall in Jerusalem were misrepresented online as taken in the Great Wall of China. Posts shared globally falsely claimed the pictures showed the former leaders “swearing allegiance” to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

“I hate how China controls all of our politicians. They make them go touch the Great Wall of China and swear allegiance to the CCP,” reads the caption of a photo collage shared on an Australia-based Facebook page on February 20.

The collage shows former US presidents Obama, Trump, Clinton and Bush touching a wall. All four appear to wear what seems to be a red conical hat (archived link).

Screenshot of the false Facebook post captured on February 28, 2024

The collage was also shared over 1,500 times with the false claim in social media posts in AustraliaNew Zealand, Denmark and the United States.

Some social media users responded to the posts with laughing emojis while comments from others suggest they believed the claim.

“That’s manipulation, I hate it,” another comment read.

“Many members of Congress and government officials are also citizens of China. Many states have passed laws against criticizing China,” another said.

Relations between the United States and China have been fraught for years, with conflicts simmering over a gamut of issues, including trade, alleged espionage, human rights and foreign policy.

Tensions have eased markedly in the last year after a series of high-level meetings between US and Chinese officials, including a summit between US President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

Misused photos

Reverse image and keyword searches on Google and TinEye found the pictures were actually taken in the Western Wall in Jerusalem, the holiest place where Jews can pray.

The pictures were also altered to insert images of the red conical hats on the heads of the four former US leaders.

Obama’s photo was published by American media company Getty Images on July 24, 2008 (archived link).

Its caption says it was a handout photo provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It adds the picture shows Obama, then the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, placing a note between the ancient stones of the Western Wall.

AFP also published a similar photo of Obama.

Below is a screenshot comparison between the image in the false posts (left) and the picture from Getty Images (right) with similar features highlighted:

Trump’s photo was originally published by AFP on May 22, 2017. Trump became the first sitting US president to visit the Western Wall, AFP reported at the time.

Below is a screenshot comparison of Trump’s image in the collage (left) and the AFP picture (right) with the similarities highlighted:

Clinton’s picture is from Reuters news agency. Its caption says it shows the former president touching the Western Wall when he visited on November 15, 2009 (archived link).

The screenshot comparison below between the falsely shared image (left) and the original Reuters photo (right) highlights the matching elements:

Finally, the photo of Bush previously appeared in an article by American magazine Slate on April 17, 2002. The report said the picture shows Bush at the Western Wall in 1998 (archived link).

AFP reported Bush visited Jerusalem in November 1998 when he was Texas governor.

Below is a screenshot comparison between the image in the collage (left) and the picture published by State (right) with corresponding features highlighted:

Obama visited the Great Wall of China in November 2009, Clinton in June 1998 and Bush in February 2002, photos on the AFP Forum website show.

Trump jetted off to a summit in Vietnam after his state visit to China in November 2017 while his wife Melania stayed behind and hiked the Great Wall, AFP previously reported.

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Originally published here.
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