The following notes of recent directives from the Central Propaganda Department have been leaked online by journalists and are now circulating in Chinese cyberspace. Translated by CDT.
On January 4, 2011, a meeting of directors from the provincial propaganda departments was held in Beijing. In his talk, CCP standing committee member Li Changchun who is in charge of the propaganda work continued to emphasize a “firm grasp on accurate guidance.” Later, all provincial level bureaus issued to media organizations the Central Propaganda Bureau’s propaganda requirements and directives.
Yesterday, some senior staff from media organizations leaked online the notes of the Propaganda Bureau’s 2011 news management directives. Because of the 18th plenary meeting of the CCP that will be convened in 2012, combined with the appearance of societal contradictions in China, the Central Propaganda Department in 2011 can be characterized as adopting an “overall tightening” towards media organizations and public opinion.
1. For the “two holidays” [New Year and Chinese New Year] and the “two meetings” [CPPCC and NPC] create a favorable public opinion atmosphere. Diligently guide controversial issues such as income distribution, the stock and real-estate markets, employment and social security, education and health, and safety in manufacturing. Resolve and explain ambiguities and confusion, and reconcile contradictions.
2. Strictly control reports on “disasters and extreme incidents.” The entire quantity of these sorts of reports cannot include interviews or supervision from non-local areas. Wherever large disaster incidents occur, central media organizations will provide on-going reports that will not be broadcast live. For disasters with a death toll of less than10 people, central media organizations will not report. These will be reported by local media organizations, and media from areas outside the area of impact are not to conduct interviews or reports across borders. Central media organizations will not report on common accidents. Local media organizations are to provide appropriate reports on such incidents. Media organizations from outside the area where the accident occurred cannot provide reports.
3. “Safely grasp” reports on the requisition of land and forcible demolition. For standard demolitions that have proceeded according to law and regulation, “do not raise questions.” On cases of demands for high prices, do not give further support to public opinion. Do not report on incidents of violent demolition or “suicides, self-mutilation, or collective action” in the course of demolition. Do not hype extreme incidents, and do not conduct collective reports on related cases or link events.
4. The Central Propaganda Bureau demands that all news and commerce websites never initiate any kind of nation-wide activity involving public selection of news, people, or events.
5. For reports on common incidents of collective action, media organizations, other than central media and media that is local to where the incident occurred, are not to report. We must strengthen the “management” of urban media, and prevent reports on collective action from pointing towards and focusing on the party and the government.
6. The Central Propaganda Bureau demands that anti-corruption cases must be prevented from “vulgarization.” It is not permitted to discuss, argue about, or raise questions regarding the content of related to political reform. Do not use the term “civil society” (gongmin shehui). “It is absolutely not permitted” to stand in a position opposite to the government, and it is not permitted to adopt the perspective of a media organization to “take the place of and interfere with” mass opinion.
7. Resolutely execute public opinion guidance on the real-estate market. Do not conduct questionnaires or on-line surveys on housing prices. Do not use “momentary and isolated” changes to ascertain the direction of housing prices. Do not hype extreme cases.
8. Never report on instances of using a residential construction foundation to change a residential permit, or of accepting a work contract to change one’s social security. Do not report on internal discussions on certain issues and research articles published by specialist scholars.
9. Positively report on work done in preparation for Spring Festival travel. Do not publicize problems related to Spring Festival travel, such as “difficulties in obtaining even one ticket.”
Finally, the Central Propaganda Department and the Central Party Politics and Law Committee have recently issued the joint statement, “Opinions on Further Strengthening and Improving Reportage on Criminal Cases.” This pieces divide cases into the categories of extremely heinous, heinous, standard, and distinctive. It puts forth explicit demands for how to firmly grasp and report on each level of case, providing a solution to the problem of urban media organizations providing reports on criminal cases that are “excessively numerous and immoderate.”