Directives from the Ministry of Truth: May 1-31, 2011
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.
Beijing: War Time Coordination Mechanism of Intelligence and Information for Maintaining Stability during the June 4th Sensitive Period
From the Beijing Municipal Government internal document “War Time Coordination Mechanism of Intelligence and Information for Maintaining Stability during the June 4th Sensitive Period” … All units are requested to collect and report information regarding potential treats to stability of the Capital as well as all work unit activities conducted during this sensitive period.
Few Examples of Today’s Banned Keywords (usually phrases) for Sina’s Micro-blogging site:
“Inner Mongolia” (and its abbreviation in Chinese), “Xiwu County” (part of Xilinhot), “Mo Rigeng” (an Inner Mongolia resident), “Ethnic Minority Protesting in Inner Mongolia,” “Ethnic Conflicts between Han Majority and Mongol Minority,” “Student Protest,” “Hohhot” (Capital of Inner Mongolia)
[All of the aforementioned keywords are in response to the series of protests by ethnic Mongolians against the killing of a Mongolian herder by Han Chinese.”]
From a Provincial Internet Administration Office: Reporting of news related to the recent ethnic conflicts between Mongol minority and Han majority in Xilinhot or Foxconn’s new suicide incident are prohibited. No discussion of any form on all micro-blogging sites, blogs, and discussion forums. Violators will be subjected to a RMB 30,000 fine.
From the State Council Information Office: All websites are requested to immediately remove photos and news reports regarding Chengdu bus explosion incident from front pages. Interactive spaces must immediately work on preventing the spread of related information and commentary.
From the Central Propaganda Department: To all print and TV media: The serial bombings in Fuzhou, Jiangxi must be referred as “5.26 Criminal Case.” No mentioning of “administration building” or “bombing incident” in titles will be allowed.
From the State Council Information Office: In regard to the serial bombings in Fushun, Jiangxi, all discussion and comment sections of all websites must be shut down. All interactive spaces must be managed well.
From a Provincial Internet Administration Office: Urgent: All discussions of the Jiangxi serial bombings are requested to be immediately and thoroughly deleted. No discussion should be allowed if posts cannot be managed. All photos of corpses need to be deleted.
From the State Council Information Office: Urgent: Another Foxconn worker committed suicide. No reporting of any form will be allowed on interactive spaces including all discussion forums, micro-blogs, and blogs.
[Foxconn is a major contract manufacturer of Apple’s iPods, iPhones, and iPads. There was a series of workers’ suicide incidents within the manufacturer in 2010.]
From the Central Propaganda Department: Urgent: In regard to the serial bombings in Fuzhou, Jiangxi, all print and TV media are requested to only use copy circulated from Xinhua News Agency. No independent interviews or reports are allowed. Do not post any related photos, video clips, or special reports. Any reports violating this regulation are subjected to immediate removal.
From the Central Propaganda Department: In regard to the arrest of Ai Weiwei for economic crimes, Xinhua News Agency has its official response to foreign press. All local media outlets are not to conduct independent reporting.
From the Central Propaganda Department: In regard to the soon-to-be-released official compensation plan of the deadly Shanghai high-rising building fire, all media are to use copy circulated from Xinhua News Agency. No independent reports will be allowed.
中宣部：对于即将公布的上海 “11.15” 胶州路大火的正式赔偿方案，各媒体使用新华社通稿，不得自行报道。
From the State Council Information Office: In regard to information relating to low-income housing, all websites are requested to strictly enforce the regulations and control of online opinion. No recommendations or discussions of related topics will be allowed. Any questioning, attacking, or action-calling posts need to be immediately removed.
[There have been a series of low-income housing scandals exposed on the Internet. Many state-owned companies are accused of selling most of their housing projects (built as part of the public low-income housing project) to internal employees at a mere fraction of market value, whereas the housing projects are supposed to be open to low-income families only. ]
From the State Council Information Office: In regard to the “Mongol shepherd run over and killed for protecting grassland” incident, all websites are requested to strengthen control and immediately remove negative comments. No recommendations or discussions are allowed on any interactive spaces including discussion forums and blogs.
From the State Council Information Office: Urgent: In regard to Foxconn’s Chengdu plant explosion, all media and websites are to wait for an official report. No independent reports, re-posts, or recommendations will be allowed.
From the Xichuan Provincial Propaganda Department: With regards to Foxconn’s Chengdu iPad2 plant explosion, no independent reporting can be conducted. Unauthorized reports will be immediately deleted.
From the State Council Information Office: Do not hype the so-called “Principal Fang Binxing ‘shoe-throwing’ incident widely reported by foreign press. All websites including interactive spaces such as discussion forums, weblogs, microblogs, social media are requested to immediately remove related articles and comments.
From the Hubei Provincial Propaganda Department: In regard to today’s deadly building collapse in Qiaokou, Wuhan, all media are to wait for an official report. All media are not to conduct follow-up reports.
From Yueyang Municipal Propaganda Bureau of Hunan province on May 9, 2011: Yueyang Evening News violated news-reporting regulations by posting the article “alleged car problems related to gas quality, gas station denies” with photos, and it has brought broad negative impacts. According to the instructions from the Central and Provincial Propaganda Departments, it is clear that negative reports are strictly prohibited during the celebration period of the 90th Anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party. And all reports regarding the Central Government as well as province- and city-owned enterprises in Yueyang need to be positive. Therefore, Yueyang Evening News is requested to investigate this incident and seriously punish all the related employees. All news agencies need to learn their lesson.
From the State Council Information Office: Attention to all websites, particularly interactive spaces: Immediately delete Southern Metropolis article “Internet Opinion Elites Subsidized by Youyang, Chongqing” and all related information.
From the State Council Information Office: All websites are not to re-post the Southern Metropolis editorial named “Remembering Them as Time Passes by.” Immediately delete articles if already posted. Shut down all discussions of this topic on all interactive spaces. This is a first-grade command and must be followed immediately.
The aforementioned article was dedicated to the deadly 2008 Sichuan Earthquake.
The Central Internet Administration Office has an official operational timeline which consists of three levels of commands for responding while instructing websites to delete unwanted information: First-grade command requires a response within 10 minutes; second-grade requires 30 minutes; third-grade requires deletion of the information within two hours.
From the Central Propaganda Department: In regard to the Southern Weekend report on “special organic food supply exclusively for government officials,” all media are not to re-post or discuss the issue. This instruction applies to any negative information regarding special food supply for government officials.
From the Hunan Provincial Propaganda Department: All media are to stay with the official line in response to the Cheng Guangbiao Controversy. All media are to conduct positive reporting, and no negative reports will be allowed.
[Cheng Guangbiao, the self-declared “most influential philanthropist in China,” is a Taiwanese entrepreneur who has been questioned as claiming to have made several promised big donation payments that were either fraudulent or failed.]
From the Guangdong Provincial Propaganda Department: In regard to the incident in which a factory worker, Xu Wu, escaped from a psychiatric hospital in Wuhan, all media outlets are not to report or comment.
[Xu Wu is a “petitionor,” or somene seeking justice for wrongful treatment in China by petitioning their cases to the central government. However, in many cases, not only will their cases not be investigated, but their information is often disclosed to the parties they are accusing--usually the local governments as well. And many of them have been locked up and abused in mental hospitals and accused of having severe mental illness. ]