Latest Directives from the Ministry of Truth, September 23-30, 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.
Regarding Japanese unauthorized entry into restricted military areas
September 30, 2010
For reports on the management and resolution of problems with Japanese people’s unauthorized entry into restricted military zones, use news from the Xinhua Agency as the norm. All media outlets, including Internet sites, are not allowed to create their own copy. Do not give commentary or follow-up reports. Do not put stories on prominent pages, and only post them for a limited time. This order must strictly be followed.
Regarding Chen Guangji
September 29, 2010
All newspapers are forbidden from reporting negative news about Chen Guangbiao.
At the BYD shareholder’s convention, only pictures of Warren Buffett are allowed; pictures of Li Lu are not allowed
September 29, 2010
A directive from a Guangdong branch of the Ministry of Truth: When reporters are taking pictures at the BYD stockholder’s convention, they are “only allowed to take pictures of Warren Buffett, and not of Li Lu.”
Warren Buffett arrives at Shenzhen. Li Lu accompanies him and is forbidden to make himself highly visible. Security is extremely tight.
The government forbids the media from taking pictures of the entourage.
Morning Report (Ming bao) special dispatch: The “stock god” (gu shen 股神) Warren Buffett has finally embarked on his trip to China, and yesterday afternoon he arrived at Shenzhen to attend BYD’s annual convention at the Huaqiaocheng Intercontinental Hotel. What has caught people’s attention is that the person accompanying Buffett is Li Lu, a former student leader during the 1989 protests whose arrest has been ordered by the Chinese government. Because of Li Lu’s distinct status, the Guangdong provincial committee propaganda bureau has demanded that media outlets not take pictures of people in Buffett’s entourage. Security during the convention is also extremely tight, with some tens of security officers guarding the door to the hotel and requiring that convention attendees pass through a security check and submit to a metal inspection.
Buffett arrived in Shenzhen yesterday by private helicopter, opening a four-day long tour of China. At 4:20 pm, he arrived for his stay at the Huaqiaocheng Hotel, where he will attend BYD’s annual shareholders’ convention. His motorcade had 10 cars, with Buffett in the middle, riding a mid-sized van and sitting next to the window. Two rows behind him sat Li Lu, wearing glasses and a collared shirt. Even though, compared to 21 years ago, he has put on some weight, Li Lu still looked quite energetic. The motorcade traveled about 50 km/hr as it passed into the private road up to the hotel.
Li Lu carries a U.S. passport with a special visa
Li Lu, now 44, was a student at Nanjing University in 1989. He went to Tian’anmen Square to participate in the student movement, and after the June 4th massacre, he escaped to France and then eventually reached the U.S. He is now a Chinese-American investor, investment fund manager, and the founding chairman of Himalaya Partners.
According to information obtained by this newspaper, Li Lu entered the country carrying a U.S. passport, receiving special permission from the PRC government. Li returns to the mainland serving as a go-between for Buffett as he invests in BYD, but because he is still classified by the Public Security Bureau as a “wanted criminal,” his status is particularly sensitive. Before Buffett arrived, the Guangdong provincial propaganda committee forbade the local media from reporting any news related to Li Lu, and limited them to take photographs only of Buffett, adding that, “it is not allowed to publish photographs of people traveling with Buffett.”
On the surface, it appears that this meeting was organized by BYD, but the propaganda bureau controls the press entering the site. Other than three Shenzhen-area media outlets, the others are all from central government media. No member of the Hong Kong press has been allowed entry. Beyond having to pass through a security checkpoint, each person who enters the site has to submit to a metal detector and body search. Several tens of security personnel are on guard at the main entrance, and all personnel are extremely tight-lipped about the activities for the meeting. At 4:30, after the meeting had started, the security personnel locked the entrance with a chain and a few who arrived late were not allowed in.
Strict limits on interviews; closed off to Hong Kong media
After Buffett waited in the hotel’s VIP room, he rode one of the hotel’s electric carts to the meeting hall, which immediately became energized. Buffett, 80, wore a black suit and white shirt, and had a vigorous air about him. He and his partner went together to sit at the main platform, and both gave speeches. One other point on the meeting’s agenda included an agreement between BYD and China Southern Power.
Traveling to visit Huizhou, Beijing, and Changsha
From the 27th to the 30th, Buffett’s trip to China will include travel to Huizhou, Beijing, and Changsha. During this trip to China, Buffett will also meet with Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and host a banquet on philanthropy together with 50 or 60 Chinese friends. In their invitation letter to the banquet, the two friends clearly indicated that it was “a private gathering requiring no monetary contribution.” The main goal was to provide an opportunity for people interested in philanthropy to enjoy an evening together.
巴菲特抵深圳 李錄隨行禁「現身」 保安森嚴 官方禁傳媒拍攝隨行人員 (明報)2010年9月28日 星期二 05:05
現年44歲的李錄，1989年時就讀於南京大學，曾到天安門 廣場參與學運，六四 事件後，他逃往法國 ，最後抵達美國 。現為美籍華裔投資家兼對冲基金經理，對冲基金Himalaya Partners的創辦人。
Do not report on Anyuanding’s detentions of visiting petitioners
September 26, 2010
Regarding incidents of Beijing security company Anyuanding detaining petitioners, websites in all cases may not issue reports. Reports already issued must immediately be deleted. Websites that have not complied will be penalized.
Secretary Zhang forbidden from match
September 26, 2010
From the Beijing Internet Propaganda and Management Office: It is forbidden to allow “Secretary Zhang,” manager of the online BBS 1984 (1984bbs), to participate in online and media soccer league matches.
Stop selling all books published in Hong Kong and Taiwan after 1985
September 23, 2010
Confucius Used Books Network: We have received an urgent notice from a higher level supervisory bureau, demanding the immediate stoppage of sales at bookstores and bookstands of books published after 1985 in Hong Kong and Taipei, so that they can be rectified. If your bookstore has books published after 1985 in Hong Kong or Taipei, please quickly cooperate and remove them from the shelves. If you are not able to determine the precise publishing date of some books, you must also remove them from the shelves. For specific related arrangements, after our website continues cooperating and communicating with higher authorities, we will issue further announcements. For this, the website expresses its deepest apologies and hopes you will be able to forgive us!
Xiao Qiang: “Standard copy” A signature method of the CCP for controlling the Internet
September 30, 2010
In the last two years, on Chinese Internet sites one often comes across postings that Internet users have termed “Directives from the Ministry of Truth.” Some of them are direct orders given to media outlets from the Central Propaganda Bureau, but quite a few are also orders given by the State Council Information Office to lower-level offices, which they usually transmit to websites under their management as propaganda directives.
In the past, this sort of information was a secret closely guarded from the people by those in power. But in today’s age of the Internet, many in the know hide their names and release some of the content of these directives online. Reading the various directives sent out, one sees some interesting details about how the Chinese government controls the Internet and media outlets.
Today, what I would like to talk about is one of those details, directives known as “standard copy sources” (guifan gaoyuan 规范稿源).
Amongst these directives, one often sees expressions such as “for this content, only standard copy sources are permitted.” Now, what exactly is a “standard copy source?” It is a special term used by propaganda bureaus in managing media outlets, usually online. It refers to media outlets and websites with special permission and recognition from high-level propaganda bureaus. They all belong to what the CCP believes to be the most competent and trustworthy sources, so we might term them “direct mouthpieces” (dixi houshe 嫡系喉舌).
I would like to thank one person familiar with these directives known as “Yi Zhisheng” 一知声 (“All-knowing voice”). On April 30, 2007, this person, in a document titled “2007 Annual Report on Control and Anti-Control Measures on the Internet in China,” directly revealed a roster of “media outlets classified as standard sources,” issued to all websites by the news management agency of the State Council.
According to this roster, we can directly identify which outlets are the “standard copy sources,” or “direct mouthpieces.” They include the Xinhua News Agency and People’s Daily (Renmin ribao), Chinese Central Television (CCTV) and other official media directly under the central government, the official media, totaling 67 sources.
There are also provincial-level sources, including newspapers and television and radio stations at the provincial and sub-provincial levels, such as Beijing People’s Broadcast Channel, Beijing Television, and Beijing Daily (Beijing ribao), totaling 136 sources. The roster also includes a long string of provincial capital and city-level news units, and provincial level evening newspapers, such as Taiyuan Evening News (Taiyuan wanbao), Yanzhao Evening News (Yanzhao wanbao), and This Evening (Jin wan bao).
Having several hundreds of official newspapers, television stations, and radio stations is apparently not enough. This roster of “official copy sources” also includes a long string of key news websites, extending from the level of central ministries and committees down to provincial cities, autonomous areas, and directly-administered municipalities. This is to say that officially managed websites are also amongst the “direct mouthpieces.” These include People’s Network (Renmin wang) and Xinhua Network (Xinhua wang), as well as several tens of sites including those of the ministries of Foreign Affairs, Health, Commerce, and Finance; the National Development and Reform Committee (Development and Reform Committee); and the provincial Northern Network (Beifang wang), Jilin Network (Jilin wang), and Eastern Network (Dongfang wang).
Expressions with the term “standard copy source” are all directives given down to large Internet portals by bureaus controlling the Internet. In China, these large portals, whether Sina.com and Sohu.com or Wangyi.com and Tengxun.com, not only have no power over selection and editing content. Moreover, on issues of import in contemporary politics, they are often directed by orders from Internet control bureaus that say, “you can only use content from standard copy sources.”
If content is really grouped together and sent down in a continuous flow from the several hundreds of standard copy sources, then the front pages of Sina, Sohu, and Netease have almost no room to put more interesting material.
However, in China, people often say: “when a policy comes from above, a countermeasure comes from below.” The editors of these commercial Internet portals, in order to make their websites able to attract Internet users, have thought up a method that plays just on the edge of what is acceptable. For example, via platforms with user-produced content, such as on-line forums and blogs, they post information under the name of Internet users, and thus report more content from “anti-standard copy sources.”
Then, on the front page they give a link to direct people to the content. This way, even if Internet control bureaus complain, the companies can say that a visitor to the site issued the offending post. They thus are not interviews created by the site, nor do they belong to an official copy source.
This creates an interesting phenomenon: on the one hand the front page of Internet portals are entirely grand compendia completely managed as “direct mouthpieces.” At the same time, the editors of these websites use content on online forums and blogs to issue unofficial content on the front pages. Internet users also have other means to create their own media, which I can describe in a later discussion.
(Transcript from a tape, unrevised)
Source: Radio Free Asia
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 nickname 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.