Latest Directives from the Ministry of Truth: July 8-July 17
The following examples of censorship instructions, issued to the media and/or Internet companies by various central (and sometimes local) government authorities, have been leaked and distributed online. Chinese journalists and bloggers often refer to those instructions as “Directives from the Ministry of Truth.” CDT has collected the selections we translate here from a variety of sources and has checked them against official Chinese media reports to confirm their implementation.
Delete all commentary on “Chinese Academy of Social Science’s Report on the Development of New Media in China”
July 8, 2010
All websites: Delete all posts commenting on a series of news items related to the Chinese Academy of Social Science’s Report on the Development of New Media in China. Close all interactive links.
Do not interview or report on [Han Han’s new journal] Party
July 9, 2010
This afternoon, mainstream media in Beijing all received a directive from the Central Propaganda Bureau, instructing them not to interview or report on [Han Han’s journal] Party (Du chang tuan).
Regarding the incident of Tang Jun’s fabricated C.V.
July 12, 2010
Reports regarding the incident of Tang Jun’s fabricated C.V. must be measured. Do not play it up, do not hype.
Shanghai television channel not to report on content related to Han Han
July 13, 2010
In a corporate propaganda directive, Shanghai Media Group (SMG) has issued an order killing all reports related to Han Han
Regarding Tang Jun
July 16, 2010
In all cases, delete and manage all content implicating Chinese governmental bodies, occasioned by Tang Jun’s fabricated C.V. Delete content that calls into question the C.V.s of high-level leaders.
Lianhe Morning Report (Lianhe zao bao): China demands urban newspapers end press office communications, and requires them to use Xinhua news agency copy
July 16, 2010
An article from Lianhe Morning Report (http://www.zaobao.com/zg/zg100716_001.shtml) explains: This directive demands that city newspapers in Guangdong, Guangxi, Jiangxi, and Hunan forbid the exchange of copy. The order is meant to prevent reports of hot topics and negative news from spreading across regions, and thus lower the pressure of popular opinion felt by local governments.
Chinese officials in recent days have required many city newspapers that are popular among readers to stop the practice of “linked press office communications” (baoshe tonglian 报社通联) and reaffirmed the ban placed on all city newspapers against “trans-regional monitoring” (yidi jiandu 异地监督, i.e. reporting negative news that occurs in different areas). They also emphasized that international and national news published in each newspaper, aside from reports written by in-house reporters, must use wire copy circulated from the Xinhua News Agency.
The term “city newspapers” refers to market-based newspapers with a relatively light official tone that support themselves via their own sales. “Linked press office communications” refers to the exchange of copy via cooperative agreements between city newspapers, or commentary issued in concert among press offices. If a controversial or prominent incident happens in a given area, local media are often restrained by local government control and are thus unable to give reports on the incident. However, through “linked press office communications,” they can take their reports and offer them to non-local city newspapers for publishing.
In March of this year, prior to the “Two Meetings” (the meetings of the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Congress), the Economic Observer (Jingji guancha bao) and some 13 other city newspapers issued a joint editorial, calling upon officials to speed up reform of the rights restrictive “residential registration system.” This attracted attention from all areas of society, and infuriated officials who manage propaganda bureaus. These bureaus believed that “linked press office communications” could easily lead to press offices establishing connections, working together to amplify certain events, and increasing their influence over public opinion. They might even publish viewpoints that go against the official propaganda “mainstream,” which would be harmful to “establishing correct public opinion guidance.” (树立正确的舆论导向)
The Central Propaganda Bureau for years has always required that all non-local news must come from Xinhua copy. In recent years, by positioning themselves closer to the people with lively and vivid reports, some city newspapers have achieved a solid foothold in the market, with sales volumes far beyond those of the big officially managed newspapers. These city newspapers also often break the established journalistic practice of “territorial jurisdiction” (shudi guanxia 属地管辖), crossing regional borders to report on hot topics and negative news. This has caused local officials to feel extreme pressure. Because local officials cannot cross borders to intervene in the media, they often lodge complaints with the Central Propaganda Bureau, demanding that it stop this “trans-regional monitoring” and “linked press office communications.”
According to reports yesterday in the Hong Kong-based newspaper Ming bao and other media outlets, an employee at a Beijing newspaper revealed that his office received a directive ordering the following: a ban on reporting negative news in non-local contexts; a ban on reporting negative news in the bureaus of Public Security, Investigation, and Justice; a ban on using copy from “linked press office communications”; and a requirement that all breaking news be reported with Xinhua News Agency copy. This directive was issued at the end of last month, and on July 1 it went into effect. Many newspapers are dissatisfied with the rule and hope that it will be repealed.
The reports state that this directive was issued from the Central Propaganda Bureau, and caused many city newspapers to become upset. Managers at these newspapers have expressed their concerns to the Central Propaganda Bureau via officially-managed channels, hoping it will repeal the new rule.
Yesterday, a reporter for this newspaper checked to verify this information with a spokesperson from the Central Propaganda Bureau. The spokesperson responded with a statement asking him to “please direct the question to the External Propaganda Office of the Central Committee of the CCP.”
According to what this newspaper has learned, the new directive mainly concerns Guangdong, Guangxi, Jiangxi, and Hunan, forbidding city newspapers in these regions from exchanging copy.
An editor from a city newspaper who requested anonymity confirmed to this newspaper that, starting from the beginning of July, responsible bureaus have indeed required that all city newspapers can no longer exchange copy. Moreover, another person employed in a local media outlet has revealed that actually as early as one year ago newspapers received this sort of order, but only a few papers had actually strictly enforced it. However, all newspapers had implemented an order to “not publish Internet news,” including items coming from websites such as Renmin, Xinlang, Wangyi.
Reports yesterday from Hong Kong media outlets also pointed out that this order also affected online micro-blogs and other new media. In China, a few large Internet portals and social networking websites have established micro-blog platforms, which recently have been examined unannounced, and had their service connections severed.
At the same time, officials have emphasized the “positive leadership” of micro-blogs. The Zhongxin news agency yesterday reported that with the establishment of 21 micro-blogs at the city- and provincial-levels in Guangdong, Beijing police have also recently set up micro-blogs for external propaganda, trying to achieve a level of communication equivalent to those of Internet users. This development suggests that more and more micro-blogs with an “official background” will begin to have a public presence.
http://www.zaobao.com/zg/zg100716_001.shtml 说明：该禁令要求广东、广西、江西、湖南等地区的都市报禁止交换稿件。以杜绝他们跨地区报导热点事件与负面新闻，降低地方政府的舆论压力。 中国官方近日要求多家较受读者欢迎的都市类报纸停止“报社通联”的做法，重申禁止各都市类报纸进行“异地监督（报道其他地区的负面新闻）”，强调各报刊登的国际和国内新闻，除自己记者稿件外，必须一律采用新华社的电讯稿。 所谓都市报是指官方色彩较淡、经济上自负盈亏的市场化报纸，而“报社通联”是指都市类报社之间通过协议交换稿件，或报社间联合发表评论。有了 “报社通联”，如果某地发生热点新闻或突发事件，当地媒体往往因受到当地政府的管制而不能擅自报道，但他们可以通过“报社通联”将报道提供给非本地区的都市报发表。
今年3月“两会（全国人大和全国政协年会）”前，《经济观察报》等中国13家都市类报纸发表联合社论，呼吁当局加快改革限制人权的“户籍制度”，引起社会各界关注，也令官方主管宣传部门震怒。有关部门认为，都市类报纸存在的“报社通联”行为容易导致报社相互串联，就某一事件联合发声，扩大舆论影响力，有时甚至发表有悖于官方宣传“主旋律”的观点，不利于“树立正确的舆论导向”。 中共宣传部门多年来一直要求各报非本地新闻要转引新华社稿件。近些年来，一些都市类报纸通过贴近民众、生动活泼的报道在市场站稳脚跟，销量远远超过官办大报。这些都市类报纸也时常打破“属地管辖”常规，跨地区报道热点事件和负面新闻，令事件发生地当局深感压力。由于地方当局不能跨区干涉新闻媒体，地方当局便纷纷向中宣部投诉，要求制止这种“异地监督”和“报社通联”。 据香港《明报》等媒体昨天报道，北京某报内部人员透露，该报社这次此次收到的新禁令是：禁止异地负面报道，禁止报道公检法等部门的负面新闻，禁止采用“报社通联”稿件，突发事件均需用新华社稿件。禁令上月底发出，7月1日开始执行。 引发多报不满希望取消禁令 报道说，这一禁令由中宣部发出，引发多家都市报不满。有都市报负责人已透过体制内管道向中央高层陈情，希望取消有关禁令。 本报记者昨天向中宣部新闻发言人查证相关消息，发言人回应说，这个问题“请向中共中央对外宣传办公室了解”。 据本报了解，新的禁令主要指广东、广西、江西、湖南，不准这些地区的都市报交换稿件。 一名不愿公开姓名的都市类报纸编辑向本报证实，有关部门确实要求从7月份开始一律不能与其他都市报交换稿件。另有中国地方媒体同行也透露，其实早在一年前就接到这样的指示，只是一些报纸没有严格执行，但各报都执行“不发网上消息”的指示，包括来自人民网、新浪网、网易等网站的新闻。 香港媒体报道昨日也指出，这次禁令也波及到网络微博这种新兴媒体。中国一些大的门户和社交网站的微博平台，最近突然变成测试版，服务联接不时中断。 同时，官方加强了对微博的“正面引导”。中新社昨天报道，继中国广东省21个地级市及省公安厅的官方微博相继开通后，北京警方也于近日对外宣布将开通微博，实现与网民平等交流。这预示着，越来越多具有“官方背景”的微博正逐步走入公众的视线。
July 17, 2010
1. Websites allowing posts and information that attacks the government must be dealt with severely.
2. Clear out online rumors, stories, and puns that defame the Party, nation, leadership, and people working for the nation. This sort of content blackens the name of the Party and the government, and has an extremely corrosive influence on society and public opinion.
July 17, 2010-07-21
I did not come to issue orders. I really obey the words of the Ministry of Truth. It says: “It is forbidden to distribute online directives banning the release of sensitive news.”
In China, several political bodies are in charge of Internet content control. At the highest level, there is the Central Propaganda Department, which ensures that media and cultural content follows the official line as mandated by the CCP. Then there is the State Council Information Office (SCIO), which has established “Internet Affairs Bureau” to oversee all Websites that publish news, including the official sites of news organizations as well as independent sites that post news content.
This “Internet Affairs Bureau,” sent out very specific instructions to all large news websites daily, and often multiple times per day. Those instructions do not always mean that related contents are completely banned online, but they instruct websites to highlight or suppress certain type of opinions or information in a very detailed manner.
Chinese journalists and bloggers often refer to those instructions, as well as other type of censorship orders to media and websites, as “Directives from the Ministry of Truth.” TheMinistry of Truth (or Minitrue, in Newspeak) is one of the four ministries that govern Oceania in George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. In the Chinese blogosphere, it is the online lingo for the Central Propaganda Department and generally speaking, all other subordinate propaganda agencies including Internet supervision departments.
Today, it’s been said that news does not break, it tweets. For the officials in the the Ministry of Truth, the news is that their supposedly confidential instructions get tweeted as well.