Eurogamer noticed an increased number of readers to a four-year-old news story today. The article was about a Capcom PR stunt promoting Resident Evil by setting up a fake butcher shop with graphic sculptures of supposedly human meat. Now, nearly four years later, it looks like those images have sparked a rumour so widespread that the Chinese government had to issue a statement.
It all started when we discovered this Independent story about a rumour that China was exporting cans of human meat to African supermarkets. A Facebook post by Barbara Akosua Aboagye made the allegation using a Eurogamer image of Capcom's 2012 Resi installation as proof of this dire practice.
The post was shared over 26k times and South African outlets Msanzi Live and Daily Post suggested that this was China's way of dealing with a lack of space to bury its dead.
The allegation gained so much steam that the Chinese government issued a statement on the matter.
"Today a local tabloid newspaper is openly spreading a rumour, claiming that the Chinese use human meat to make corned beef and sell it to Africa," said a Chinese Ambassador to Zambia Yang Youming.
"This is completely a malicious slandering and vilification which is absolutely unacceptable to us. We hereby express our utmost anger and the strongest condemnation over such an act."
Meanwhile, top men in Zambia's government are launching an investigation of their own. "The government of Zambia regrets the incident in view of the warm relations that exist between Zambia and China," said Zambia's deputy defence minister Christopher Mulenga. "We shall make sure that relevant government authorities will take up the investigations and give a comprehensive statement."
We at Eurogamer only found out about all this as a commenter on the Independent article linked to our 2012 story, offering an explanation as to where the most damning photo emanated from.
We've got to hand it to Capcom though. Those are some pretty convincing cadavers!