The curator of a World War II museum in Southwest China's Yunnan province says he is considering suing reporters who exposed the presence of a Hello Kitty badge in a display.
A recent report about a badge depicting the fictional Japanese cartoon character in the Museum of Dianmian War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression in Heshun town, Tengchong county, has caused outcry among netizens.
Media in Kunming said a visitor noticed the badge bearing the image of Hello Kitty in the private museum over the National Day holiday. The museum signboard said: "The badge was for US Army Stilwell Road Guards".
The road, named after General Joseph Stilwell, started in Ledo, in northeastern India, crossed into present-day Myanmar and ended in Kunming. It was finished in 1944.
Experts say the real badge was probably used in 1943 by the US Army's 1180th Engineer Battalion.
Hello Kitty was created by Japanese designer Yuko Shimizu in 1974.
"This is absolutely ridiculous! How could the US Army have a Hello Kitty badge!" one visitor to the museum said.
Museum curator Duan Shengkui said the signboard was in the wrong place, adding: "It was a mistake by a staff member".
"The photograph in question actually shows two badges," Duan said. "One is the real badge US Army Stilwell Road Guards used and the other is the Hello Kitty badge."
He said the museum also displays post-World War II items.
"I am considering suing the reporters of www.yunnan.cn," he said. "The museum says no photos, but they still took them and published them online."
The Hello Kitty badge has been removed from display.
The museum opened in July 2005 and houses more than 23,000 relics related to the war by Chinese, British and US troops against Japanese forces in Yunnan and Burma during World War II.
The relics were mostly collected by Duan Shengkui, a 46-year-old banker. The museum is the first privately invested one in China to display items from the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1937-1945).
A legal professional said the curator may not have much success suing the reporters.
"The museum rule prohibits photo taking, but there is no law that stipulates that someone violates the law if he or she takes photos," Yao Minghua, a lawyer with the Yunnan Baqian Law Firm, said. "Moreover, the whole thing is not made up by the reporters. The curator admitted it was a mistake of his staff members."