Minitrue: Control Discussion of Hunan Lead Poisoning

The following  instructions, issued to the media by government authorities, have been leaked and distributed online. The name of the issuing body has been omitted to protect the source.

Interactive platforms carefully control user commentary on the article “More Than 300 Children in Dapu Township, With Excessive Blood Lead Levels.” Delete content maliciously attacking the system or specifically targeting government officials. (June 17, 2014).

互动环节注意控制以下文章后面的用户评论 《湖南衡东大浦镇300多名儿童血铅严重超标》, 恶意攻击体制和专门针对政府的内容要予以删除

More than 300 children in Dapu Township, Hunan Province were found to have , with blood lead counts as high as three times the national standard, reports the Guardian. While most recent state media reports have put blame on contamination from a local chemical factory [Chinese], the head of the town government Su Genlin pointed out in a CCTV interview that the student custom of chewing on pencils “could also cause lead poisoning” ["也可能超铅”]. The New York Times’ coverage translates a few angry netizen comments on the official’s remark:

[...] His assertion triggered an angry reaction online and in the Chinese news media. People’s Daily, the official newspaper of China’s ruling Communist Party, noted on Monday that although the Chinese word for pencil is “lead pen,” the core is actually graphite. It asked:

This argument that chewing pencils will lead to excessive levels of lead, is it ignorance or disregard and disdain for the health and well-being of the people?

Meanwhile, a Sichuan-based commenter, Zhou Minghua, asked on Tencent Weibo:

The responsibility of the pollution lies in the mouths of children? The core of pencils is mostly graphite and clay. This mayor has broken through the lowest level of humanity, pulled the logic of power down to the freezing point and displayed the cold-blooded nature of his authority.

The outrage at Mr. Su’s assertion reflected a widespread concern in China that are willing to ignore the harmful side effects of industries that provide jobs and lift economic growth. Those officials are sometimes accused of being in collusion with the polluting industries, either by holding ownership shares or receiving bribes. [Source]

CDT collects directives from a variety of sources and checks 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 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.

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