With Media Directives, Leaders Micromanage News

For Freedom House, Sarah Cook and Natalie Sykes have conducted an analysis of the Chinese government’s censorship instructions, collated and translated by CDT as part of our Directives from the Ministry of Truth series:

As part of a larger research project to be published in the fall, Freedom House has analyzed over 300 censorship directives that were issued by the central authorities and posted on CDT between November 2012 and May 2014—the first year and a half under the new party leadership headed by President Xi Jinping. Although the sample is by no means exhaustive, it is sufficiently robust and detailed to provide valuable insight into areas of particular sensitivity and insecurity for the regime.

A preliminary analysis of these directives has shed light not only on the breadth of censored topics, but also on the variety of strategies employed to amplify or manipulate coverage of sensitive issues. Rather than merely blocking news of protest movements or critical opinions, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) operates a finely tuned propaganda machine that seeks to guide coverage, delivering the news on its own terms.