Ministry of Truth: Bad Trades and Fake Thirds
The following censorship instructions, issued to the media by government authorities, have been leaked and distributed online. Chinese journalists and bloggers often refer to these instructions as “Directives from the Ministry of Truth.”
Guangdong Propaganda Department News Service Notice: (1) Regarding the incident of abnormal trading by Everbright Securities, the media are asked to report objectively in accordance with information issued by authoritative bodies. Do not hype. (2) Today’s “Zhang Tai” commercial advertisement in the Southern Metropolis Daily violates the stipulations of advertising law. The media are asked to strengthen revision of the contents of advertisements. Do not publish this type of advertisement. Do not report or comment on this incident. (August 20, 2013)
On the same day, Southern Metropolis Daily ran a cryptic full-page ad that lead to serious misunderstanding online:
Netizens quickly shared this ad on Weibo, shocked that a mistress would make such a public statement. “Former Zhang Tai” (前任张太) can also be read as “ex Mrs. Zhang”–readers assumed that a Mr. Zhang had left his first wife to marry his mistress. The wish for “a world without thirds” (天下无三) plays on the title of the film A World Without Thieves (天下无贼). Mistresses are known as “little thirds” (小三).
The paper issued an apology [zh] yesterday, explaining that the ad was actually the first in a series by the cosmetics company Hänhoo, which later reveals that the “former Zhang Tai” is the same fictional person as the current “Zhang Tai.”
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.
Since directives are sometimes communicated orally to journalists and editors, who then leak them online, the wording published here may not be exact. The original publication date on CDT Chinese is noted after the directives; the date given may indicate when the directive was leaked, rather than when it was issued. CDT does its utmost to verify dates and wording, but also takes precautions to protect the source.