4 December 2023

Misleading: Some photos and videos are not related to ‘grain stock fires’ in Chinese cities

The photo was shot in the US and the video was filmed last year at a cooking oil storehouse.

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On July 6, the  (NTD) reported that local administrations in China had set fire to grain stocks to cover-up a serious grain shortage, referencing online rumors.

The article repeated a claim circulating on Facebook, and  that the grain stocks were set ablaze to cover-up shortages before central government inspectors arrived, with photos and videos purportedly showing fires at storage facilities in different cities in China.

However, many of the images and videos are misleading.

The picture used at the top of the NTD article, for example, is a cropped version of . on May 28, 2020, during a protest in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Although the caption indicates the image was used for illustration purposes, NTD does not say it is not in China, or that it does not show grain stocks on fire.

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quoted in the NTD article claims that fires erupted at grain stock facilities in Shanghai, Henan and Guizhou recently, as part of a rumored cover-up operation. But the video clip was taken  2019.

According to news reports by  and he fire broke out at a storehouse of a private oil company called Shanghai Jiali Grain and Oil Limited. The facility stored popular cooking oil known by its brand name Golden Dragon Fish Oil.

The video says “12 firefighter squads, 46 fire trucks and 322 firefighters” were sent to deal with the incident. These numbers match with what . Buildings in the video are also identical to  on the same incident.

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A fire indeed took place at a grain stock facility in Duyun, Guizhou, on June 1, 2020, as reported by  from Henan Province. The also published a press release on the incident.

Google Earth indicates that at least one video included in the NTD article is an edited version of the , and it is authentic. However, the report does not mention the cause of the fire.

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Similar rumors that the Chinese government is setting fire to grain stocks have circulated several times in the past in early summer; for example, in  and  (these rumors were debunked by ).

Annie Lab could not independently confirm whether such claims are true or false.

[Updated on July 15] After Annie Lab published this report on July 13, . The article now features another image, a screenshot of a  showing a fire at Heilongjiang’s Lindian National Grain Storage in 2013.

According to local media, the fire was caused by . At the time t there was neither a grain shortage nor an inspection from Beijing.