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.
Do not report on Han Han’s trip to Hong Kong
July 22, 2010
Regarding “the battle between Mandarin and Cantonese”
July 22, 2010
From the propaganda bureau of the provincial party committee: Regarding the “battle between Jin and Yue” [note: a phrase referring to a controversy in Guangdong province over a recent decision to require Guangdong television stations to broadcast in Mandarin, which has raised larger concerns about the future of Cantonese language and culture], all media outlets must use circulated copy. They are not permitted to do interviews and reports on their own.
For the incident in Hubei of a mistaken beating of an official’s wife, interviewing and reporting without authorization is not allowed.
July 23, 2010
Immediately execute these delineated regulatory actions on the Internet.
July 28, 2010
Several changes in regulatory actions and operations:
1) Intensify the liability of all Internet site managers and managerial bureaus; bring penalties against people.
2) When a problem emerges, immediately halt or cancel all related business. Disregard personal feelings.
3) All items related to the following should be brought together and cleaned up:
a) Do not play up luxurious and wealthy lifestyles
b) Do not hype the “rich second generation” (i.e. wealthy people born in the 1980s after the institution of the reform and opening policy), or problems related to the income gap.
c) Do not hype immigration
d) Do not hype the housing benefits and wages of public officials.
e) Do not hype the darker sides of society (political stories, satirical stories)
f) Do not hype or play up vulgarity
Regarding the “Great Explosion of Nanjing”
July 28, 2010
The propaganda bureau of the Nanjing party committee has issued a directive: In all cases use circulated copy on today’s explosion; reporters are not allowed to interview or publish pictures.
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 lingo 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.