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.
The Movement Against Abductions
February 15, 2011
From the Central Propaganda Department: Recently, media in all regions have issued a series of reports on the movement to free abducted children by using pictures taken with mobile phones. These cases have garnered widespread interest in society, as well as the heightened attention of relevant government bureaus.
Because this item has received so much attention, and is quite sensitive, all media must firmly grasp proper leadership of public opinion. Reports on the movement to release abducted children and itinerant child beggars with the help of mobile phone cameras and microblogs should have a reduced presence on news pages. To properly lower excitement, do not issue serial articles on the movement. This will avoid giving people the impression that the problem is compounding.
All media reports and commentaries must strictly observe regulations regarding reporting on minors, and are not to criticize the institutions currently in operation or the social aid system. Prevent reports from inappropriately providing people with a handle [for criticism]. We must steadfastly maintain positive propaganda, and emphasize reporting on relevant measures adopted by bureaus at all levels of government, as well as the work that they are doing and the achieved results. Put forward and mobilize societal energy to support those who have experienced loss, and exert effort to help vagrant and begging children. Promote and give form to a positive societal trend of pitching in on work for society and caring for others.
The Case of Liu Zhijun
February 14, 2011
From the State Council Information Office: For the Liu Zhijun affair, all major websites must use standard source material and only repost copy circulated from the Xinhua News Agency. Do not place the affair as a lead story, and do not establish it as a special topic. Close news comment posting capabilities for the story, and positively lead public opinion on online forums and blogs.
Strictly supervise microblogs, online social networks, and instant message services. Immediately delete articles that attack the Party and government, raise questions about the achievements of high-speed rail construction, or use this incident to fan collective action.
Regulation and Control of the Real Estate Market
February 10, 2011
From the Central Propaganda Bureau and the State Council Information Office: Regarding regulation and control of the real estate market, all websites must successfully lead public opinion and propaganda. They must actively promote [efforts by] the CCP and State Council to resolutely restrain rapid increases in real-estate prices; safeguard the determination of the masses to stay in their residences; and promote the positive achievements of the State Council Secretariat’s “Notice of Issues Related to Progress on Regulation and Control of the Real Estate Market” and reform of real estate taxes.
In China, several political bodies are in charge of Internet content control. At the highest level, there is theCentral 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.