New Directives from the Ministry of Truth, October 8, 2010 (RE: Liu Xiaobo wins Nobel Peace Prize)
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.
October 8, 2010
All websites are to delete special topics on the prize: “Websites are not to create news items or exclusive stories on the Nobel Prize. Exclusive stories that do exist must all be deleted.”
The latest directive from the Central Propaganda Bureau: “Standard copy on Liu Xiaobo winning the Nobel Peace Prize has been approved for distribution, but all media outlets are not allowed to publish it. This includes all print and online media.”
The Office of Information of the State Council has issued a directive regarding Liu Xiaobo winning the Nobel Peace Prize: Set into place the prohibited words on all micro-blogs; on-line forums, blogs and other interactive platforms are all forbidden from transmitting them. The Xinhua News Agency will shortly circulate copy.
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.