Latest Directives from the Ministry of Truth: June 18-July 6, 2010

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.

Xiao Qiang: Exposing the “Directives from the Ministry of Truth”

July 6, 2010

In the wake of ever-increasing dissatisfaction with and resistance against the control of information in the media and Internet worlds, at the same time the channels and transmission methods of emerging social media outlets, in this age of the Internet, have become increasingly broad.  This is particularly true of microblogs, which now allow formerly secret propaganda directives to be more and more widely known amongst Internet users.

Allow me to select some items from the “Ministry of Truth directives” of June and examine their content.  Of course, some of them are political in nature, such as the prohibition on reporting or reposting stories about the Dalai Lama’s visit to Japan.  Others say not to report or follow domestic industrial strikes.  Still others require all websites to clean up content harmful to party and government leaders.  What is here called “harmful content” primarily refers to rumors and doggerel that, from the perspective of the Central Propaganda Bureau, contain information that damages the image of party and government leaders.

The prohibitions, however, also often cover society news, such as the order not to report on cell phone cheating during the gaokao (college entrance examinations).  There is also the directive against reports on keeping in good health, and a requirement to use designated specialists from the Health Department for interviews if reports are made.  We have even more absurd cases, including a prohibition against using the pretext of the World Cup to make fun of football in China.

From these directives, the truth of the matter is that the more content becomes off limits to reports or emphasis from media outlets, the more this content becomes a subject of feverish discussion and sharing online.  Netizens have their own source channels and ways to get at information.  Some of them are able to get over the Great Firewall, others are good at transmitting news.  They have their own parody (ègǎo 惡搞), humor, and music.  By comparison, traditional media outlets and large websites under the strict control of the Central Propaganda Bureau are not able to report, and their front pages are often filled with whitewashed terms, and hackneyed so-called “main melody”.

This comparison shows that traditional media outlets and large websites are covered with a veneer of terms and stale motifs. Are they really meant for the eyes of netizens or are they just for the censors themselves to see? 

In the Internet age, it seems more and more to be the latter.

萧强:曝光“真理部指令”

随着媒体界和网络界对于这种言论管制不满和抵抗日益增加,同时呢,这种社会媒体出现的渠道和传播方式在网络时代越来越广,特别是微博客,使得本来绝对秘密的宣传指令,今天也越来越在网民中广为人知。

让我来选几条在六月份网路上披露的“真理部指令”,看看它们都是哪些内容。当然有的是政治性的,比如说达赖访日一事,禁止报道转载;或者说不报道、不跟进国内罢工事件;还有说各网要清理针对党和国家领导人的有害内容,这里它说的有害内容主要指的是打油诗、顺口溜等等在中宣部看来,对于党和国家领导人形象有所损害的内容。

但是这一类的禁令也常常包括社会新闻,比如不报道高考手机舞弊;又比如养生类新闻不报道,如报道须用卫生部指定的专家采访。那还有更荒唐的,包括不得以“世界杯”报道的名义,嘲笑中国足球。

从这些指令上来看,其实越是不让正式媒体报道或者突出的内容,基本上就越是网络热议或者热传的内容。对于网民们来说,他们有自己的来源渠道、有自己的小道消息;有的能翻墙、有的善传播;有自己的恶搞与饭否、也有自己的幽默和音乐。而相形之下,那些传统媒体和各大网站在中宣部的更严格控制之下,既不能报,那么首页上往往是充满了粉饰之词、或者是陈辞滥调。

相比之下,那些传统媒体和各大网站充满了粉饰之词和陈辞滥调的所谓主旋律,究竟是给网民们看的、还是给管制者自己看的呢?

在网络时代越来越象是后者了。

Do not report the story “Accident at Overseas Chinese Amusement Park in Shenzhen”

July 5, 2010

不报道“深圳华侨城游乐园事故”

http://sh.sina.com.cn/news/s/2010-06-30/0809147196.html

Accurately report the story “Bus in Wuxi, Jiangsu catches fire”

July 5, 2010

Regarding the incident of a bus catching fire in Wuxi, Jiangsu, websites are not permitted to send people there to conduct interviews.  Only use copy circulated from Xinhua.  Do include it among the headlining stories, and do not hype it.  So ordered.

正确报道“ 江苏无锡班车起火”

江苏无锡班车起火一事,网站不得派人员前往采访,只用新华社通稿,不放要闻区,不得炒作。宣此。

The books San shi nian he dong (Thirty Years on the East Bank) and Si shou lian tan (Four Hands Playing Together) are to be removed from lists.

July 4, 2010

《三十年河东》《四手联弹》“下榜处理”

Do not report the story “Student from school in Zhaoqing, Guangdong hangs self.”

June 30, 2010

For the time being, do not report on the incident of a student hanging himself in his room at Ronghe School, Zhaoqing School District, Guangdong.

不报道“广东肇庆学校学生上吊”

暂不报道广东金融学校肇庆校区一学生在宿舍上吊一事

Do not report “Signatures gathered against ‘letter of sanction issued by Chongqing’s Chen bao (Morning Report), threatening reporters’”; accurately report on the “integration of telecommunications networks”

June 30, 2010

1) Today on the Internet there was a coordinated post of a draft story exposing Chongqing’s Chenbao (Morning Report), entitled “Signatures gathered against ‘letter of sanction issued by Chongqing’s Chen bao (Morning Report), threatening reporters.’” Do not report on this.

2) Recent events related to the integration of telecommunications networks are intensely political.  Maintain a high level of sensitivity, and all outlets in all cases must use Xinhua reports as the standard.  Carefully publish reports.

不报道“《就重庆晨报恫吓同行宣布个人制裁书》联合签名”,正确报道“三网融合”

1,今天网上联合发贴,揭露重庆晨报的稿件(《就重庆晨报恫吓同行宣布个人制裁书》联合签名),不报道。

2,近期关于三网融合的事件政治性强,敏感度高,各报一律以新华社报道为准,谨慎发稿

Delete all reports related to the strike at Fengtian in Guangzhou

June 24, 2010

删除有关丰田广州罢工的一切报道

The book Tianzhu: Zangren chuanqi (Heavenly Pearl: The Story of a Tibetan) must be removed from shelves

June 23, 2010

书籍《天珠:藏人传奇》一律下架

Do not report on the exchange rate reform; in all cases use copy circulated from Xinhua

July 22, 2010

不得评论汇率改革,一律用新华社通稿

Anniversary of July 5th Incident: Related reports are forbidden, use circulated copy for other reports.

July 22, 2010

A report in Mingbao (Morning Report) says that in recent days all media outlets in Xinjiang have continually received notices from higher levels that forbid them from reporting anything related to the “Anniversary of July 5th.”  Even news such as the recent disturbances in Pakistan must in all cases use copy from Xinhua as the standard.

七五事件周年,禁止相关报道,其他报道用通稿

《明报》报道,连日来,新疆各媒体已陆续接到上级通知,禁止任何涉及「7.5周年」的报道,即使如近日的吉尔吉斯坦骚乱等新闻,也一律以新华社稿件为准 http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,5709566,00.html

Do not hype story “The case against Karma Sandrup for stealing from tombs”

June 22, 2010

不炒作“11.3凯·嘎玛桑珠盗掘古墓葬案”

不炒作“11.3凯·嘎玛桑珠盗掘古墓葬案”

背景资料:
人权观察敦促中国:撤消指控藏人环保慈善家 家人受到监禁之后,嘎玛桑珠又陷冤案

译者:Buxoro
时间:2010年6月10日
来源:人权观察网站
(纽约)——人权观察今天指出,中国政府应立即释放两位因在家乡建立环保组织而以莫须有的罪名被关押的藏人环保人士,并应立即撤消对他们的兄弟嘎玛桑珠的指控,他曾在被捕之前对其兄弟们的拘捕表示抗议。这两位环保人士,其美郎加和仁青桑珠,自2009年8月在西藏被拘留至今。著名藏人环保人士,慈善家嘎玛桑珠,是中国最成功的藏人艺术收藏家之一,也是备受嘉奖的三江源生态环境保护协会创始人。在寻求他兄弟们释放的同时,本人也于2010年1月3日被捕,原因为发生在1998年的一起盗掘古墓葬案。未经法院解释,原定于6月1日的庭审在最后时分推迟,新的日期还未确定。人权观察的亚洲部主任索菲?理查德森说,“这是对中国政府的检验。这些人代表了政府所希望看到的现代藏人——经济上成功,只去支持非政治化的,被认可的文化及环境等事业——但即使是这样的人,也被当作罪犯。”嘎玛桑珠,全名如凯?嘎玛桑珠,是中国最大的私人古董收藏家之一,同时经营藏人艺术品,人称“天珠王”,拥有对这一藏人传统宝物无与伦比的收藏。2006年《南方周末》曾发专文介绍嘎玛桑珠。2009年由中国记者刘鉴强所著的传记(《天珠》)也得到官方的新华社的好评。在2000年代中期,嘎玛桑珠赞助的环保组织,青海三江源生态环境保护协会,响应中国政府的号召,为保护青藏?

Read more about the “Ministry of Truth” via CDT:

In China, several political bodies are in charge of Internet content control. At the highest level, there is the Central , which ensures that media and cultural content follows the official line as mandated by the CCP. Then there is the State Council Information Office (), 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.” The (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  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.