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.
One week after the Shanghai fire
November 21, 2010
From the Office of Information of the State Council: Regarding first week remembrances of the Shanghai fire, all media outlets and websites are not to put them in prominent positions.
[News Summary: At 2:00 pm on the 15th of November, 2010, a multi-story residential building in Shanghai at the intersection of Yutao and Jiaozhou Roads experienced a major fire. According to officially released figures from the CCP as of November 21, 58 people have been reported killed and more than 100 injured. November 21, 2010 is the seventh day after this tragedy, and is thus called “the first week” (Tr: literally, “the first seven”). Among Chinese people, this is traditionally a day for giving offerings [of mourning, remembrance, etc.]
“A Factual Investigation of the Shanghai Fire”
November 21, 2010
From the Propaganda Bureau of Shanghai: Because it published the story “A Factual Investigation of the Shanghai Fire,” withdraw current issues of the periodical China Management Report (Zhongguo jingying bao).
[News Summary: “A Factual Investigation of the Shanghai Fire: Who Was Responsible for the Subcontracting ‘Confusion’?” Source: China Management Report, on China Management Online (Zhongguo jingying wang), accessed: November 20, 2010, 11:14 am. Authors: Ye Wentian, He Yong]
【新闻简介：上海大火真相调查：“惑”起分包谁主佳艺？来源:中国经营报-中国经营网 时间： 2010-11-20 11:14 作者：叶文添、何勇 】
November 15, 2010
From the Party Committee Propaganda Bureau of the city of Shanghai: Do not publicize or hype [the fire.] Television stations and Internet sites are no longer do live reporting on it. It is permissible to report with reduced facts, using the framework issued by the city Party Committee Propaganda Bureau as the standard.
[News Summary: At 2:00 pm on the 15th of November, 2010, a tall multi-story apartment building at Yutao Road and Jiaozhou Road in Shanghai caught fire. A large number of retired teachers lived inside the building. The fire started between the 10th and 12th floors, and lasted for more than three hours. Several tens of people were killed, and several tens more suffered injuries.]
Asian Games Security Guard Beats a Reporter
November 20, 2010
From the Guangdong Provincial and Guangzhou City Propaganda Bureaus: “In order to show a harmonious society (hexie shehui) and a passionate Asian Games in Guangzhou, no media outlet is allowed to report on the beating of a reporter by a security guard.” Violators will face stiff penalties!
Xu Aimin, Party Secretary of Jingdezhen
November 18, 2010
It is forbidden to report on the incident of Xu Aimin, Party Secretary of Jingdezhen, being designated a “master ceramicist.”
[News Summary: On November 10, at the public unveiling of the selection of “the Chinese Master Ceramicists of 2010,” jointly held by the Chinese Light Industry Federation and the Chinese Ceramics Industry Association, the Party Secretary of Jingdezhen, Xu Aimin, was among the ranks of “master ceramicists.” Many waves of reaction followed in the wake of the public unveiling of the selected ceramicists. After many postings by Chinese netizens called the selection into question, the scholar Wang Hongwei, a sociologist and cultural geographer who has recently laid particular emphasis on research into ancient ceramic cultures, issued a public challenge, stating that the “[selection] procedure did not follow the rules.”]
【新闻简介：11月10日，由中国轻工业联合会和中国陶瓷工业协会联合举办的“2010第二届中国陶瓷艺术大师”评选结果公示，江西省景德镇市 委书记许爱民在列。公示结果引发千层浪。在许多网民跟帖质疑之后，社会学博士、文化地理学博士后、近年侧重古陶瓷文化研究的学者王洪伟公开质疑“程序不合 法”】
November 16, 2010
All websites are to conduct internal searches in order to find articles containing revealing pictures of [Olympic champion diver] Guo Jingjing. All of these articles are to be deleted, on penalty of strict prosecution and punishment.
November 12, 2010
All websites are to delete videos and illustrated texts by Zhang Hongliang entitled: “Before the Sea Change: Analysis of Current Domestic and Foreign Conditions.”
Shen Qinghua, Secretary of the Discipline Committee of Linfen
November 12, 2010
It is not permitted to report on Shen Qinghua, Secretary of the Discipline Committee of the city of Linfen (Shanxi).
[News Summary: When a certain Public Security Bureau director went to restore organizational relations with Shen Qinghua, Secretary of the Discipline Committee of the city of Linfen (Shanxi), Shen ordered him to get lost. Websites have spread the news that two years ago he exchanged five luxury cars, used funds obtained from a criminal case to luxuriously redecorate his office, and kept long-term rental for sexual liaisons with prostitutes.]
The Zhao Lianhai Case
November 12, 2010
From the Internet Management Office: All websites, including online forums, blogs, and micro-blogs, are not to hype the “Zhao Lianhai case.”
November 11, 2010
All websites are to take down Fan Meizhong’s (Fan Paopao) “These Two Years of Mine,” and delete it from the front pages of online forums.
Jianzhu University in Shandong
November 10, 2010
From the Internet Management Office: Regarding the self-autonomy agreement signed between Shandong Jianzhu University and students, websites are not to report. Online forums and blogs are not to discuss it, and already extant reports and discussions must be deleted.
网管办 ： 有关山东建大和学生签订自律协议事，网站不报道，论坛、博客不讨论，已有的要删除。
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.” The Ministry 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 nickname 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.