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.
Bombing at Internet Bar Kaili
December 6, 2010
From the Guizhou provincial party propaganda bureau: For the number of people killed in the bombing of an internet bar in Guizhou, media outlets must follow the officially released figure (7 people) in their reporting.
Articles by Liu Xiaobo
December 4, 2010
From the Internet Management Office: All websites are asked to search for and delete the following articles by Liu Xiaobo, and related content.
1) “The Negative Effects of China’s Rise on Global Democratization”
2) “A Single-Bladed, Poisonous Sword: A Critique of Contemporary Nationalism in China”
3) “The Future Free China among the People”
4) “A Nation That Lies to its Conscience”
5) “The Sinking of a Great Nation: A Memo Written to China”
6) “A Continued Examination of the Brick Kiln Child Slave Case”
7) “The Chinese People Can Only Accept ‘Party-led Democracy’?”
8) “Reforming the Political Regime via Reforming Society”
9) “A Doomsday Survivor’s Soliloquy”
10) A Comprehensive Look at the “Draft Law on Responses [of Media to Breaking News]”
The Rabbit Torturing Incident
December 3, 2010
From the Internet Management Office: It is not permitted to further release videos related to the rabbit torturing incident.
[News Summary: Several years ago, many websites broadly re-posted a collection of pictures of a cat being tortured, inciting nation-wide shock. A few years later, a video of a woman sitting on a rabbit through a plate of glass again ignited the Internet. The level of bloodiness and violence either equaled or surpassed the incident from the previous year. Since it was released on November 14, 2010, the number of hits on this four-minute long video has reached several million. There has been a parallel explosion of critical voices among the Chinese populace decrying such inhumane behavior. On Baidu there have been angry denunciations from Chinese netizens, with webpage notes on the rabbit torturing incident already surpassing 20 million.]
Elections in Taiwan’s Five Major Cities
December 1, 2010
From the Propaganda Bureau: Reports from media outlets on the elections in the five major cities of Taiwan are not permitted online.
[News Summary: Taipei, Xinbei, Taizhong, Tainan, and Gaoxiong. The so-called “Five Major City Elections” refer to the mayoral and city council elections in Taiwan’s five directly administered municipalities, listed above. The elections were recently completed. In terms of seats, the pan-Blue Coalition succeeded in maintaining Taipei, Xinbei, and Taizhong. With the advantage of three over two, the Blues continue their lead over the Democratic Progressive Party, but in terms of votes received in the five major cities the Pan-Green Coalition scored a big victory over the Chinese Nationalist Party (Guomindang).]
Implementation Times for Deletion Orders
December 1, 2010
The Internet Management Office distinguishes between different classes of deletion orders issued to websites under its supervision. Level One deletion orders must be responded to within ten minutes, with the indicated information deleted; Level Two orders within 30 minutes; and Level Three orders within two hours.
Portions of WikiLeaks Related to China
November 30, 2010
From the Central Propaganda Bureau: It is not permitted to report on portions of WikiLeaks related to China.
[News Summary: As the scope of the WikiLeaks information continues to expand, behind the scenes stories of Chinese foreign relations have been exposed.]
The National Sports Gold Medal Strategy
November 30, 2010
Internet Management Office: Websites are not permitted to post reports from Lookout (Liaowang) and International Leader Guide (Guoji xianqu daobao) related to the national sports gold medal strategy.
November 30, 2010
From the Central Propaganda Bureau: National media outlets are forbidden from issuing further reports on the WikiLeaks documents.
Public Opinion Supervision Conference
November 29, 2010
It is not permitted to issue any reports related to the Public Opinion Supervision Conference. The Conference has been permanently shut down.
[News Summary: The Public Opinion Supervision Conference, attended by Professor Zhan Jiang and others, has gained increasing influence, and is completely harmful to establishing a harmonious society.]
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.