The TIME cover showed a lissome young woman in a red cocktail dress and it generated a firestorm. Twenty-year-old Guo Meimei became a lightning rod in China after she posted pictures of her white Maserati and orange Lamborghini online along with images of her flying in business class and riding a horse. What, wondered China's Internet community, was the self-described commercial manager of the Red Cross doing living such a luxurious lifestyle? Guo became an unwitting poster girl for the murky world of Chinese philanthropy, in which donations have long been suspected of funding more than just charitable causes. And apparently Guo's excesses earned her a spot on the cover of TIME.
Except they didn't. Some enterprising anonymous designer slapped together the cover and posted it online in July; it went viral in China. The cover language "I am not the hero, I am a fool!" was hardly the best TIME editors could come up with. The picture was poorly Photoshopped. Nevertheless, TIME was excoriated by some Chinese Netizens for seemingly promoting a spoiled Chinese brat.