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.
Standards for Reporting on the Situation in the Middle East
February 24, 2011
From the Central Propaganda Department: Media reports on the current changing situation in the Middle East must use standard copy sources. Reports cannot have the word “revolution” (geming). Regarding the reasons for the emergence of these mass protests, nothing can be reported regarding demands for democracy or increases in commodity prices. Reports also cannot draw connections between the political systems of Middle Eastern nations and the system in our country. In all media, when the names of the leaders of Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and other countries are given, the names of Chinese leaders cannot appear next to them.
A Look Back at the 11th Five-Year Plan; A Look Forward to the 12th
February 23, 2011
From the State Council Information Office: In the upcoming period, regulation and control of online opinion must be strengthened. All major news websites must resolutely persist in accurate public opinion leadership and strengthen vigorous positive propaganda, giving particular emphasis on the spirit of the CCP’s 17th plenary meeting. We must strictly control online opinion as it emerges in interactive spaces, as well as negative news and reports in the media. Continue to strengthen vigorous propagandizing of the topic “A Look Back at the 11th Five-Year Plan; A Look Forward to the 12th.”
WikiLeaks Leaks and the U.S. National Debt
February 22, 2011
From the State Council Information Office: All websites are not to report on the following content related to disclosures and leaks found on WikiLeaks: China purchasing U.S. national debt to apply political pressure to the U.S. government. Information of this sort found on foreign websites must strictly be blocked and deleted.
Candidates for Representative at People’s Congress
February 21, 2011
From the State Council Information Office: Please delete all posts related to the item “Candidates for Representative at the People’s Congress Have No Legal Standing” found on any website or interactive space, including micro-blogs, blogs, online forums, breaking news services, and text messages.
A Nice Bunch of Jasmine
January 21, 2011
From the State Council Information Office: All websites are requested to conduct strict searches of interactive spaces such as online forums, blogs, micro-blogs, instant message tools, and text message services. Immediately delete the phrase “A nice bunch of jasmine” and related information.
Lecture by Cheng Yizhong at Hong Kong University
February 20, 2011
From the State Council Information Office: All search engines are requested to immediately screen out Cheng Yizhong’s Hong Kong University lecture, entitled “One Journalist’s Reflections.” All websites and interactive spaces, including online forums, blogs, micro-blogs, instant message services, and text message services, are to thoroughly search for and immediately delete this text and related information.
Gene research is a new tool in national recognition
February 20, 2011
From the State Council Information Office: Posts related to the item “Gene research is a new tool in national recognition” cannot appear. All websites are requested to examine online forums, blogs, micro-blogs, instant message services, text messages, and other interactive spaces.
“Fuck You Japan”
February 20, 2011
From the State Council Information Office: All interactive sites, including on-line forums, blogs, micro-blogs, instant message services, and text message services are requested to note and delete information related to the item “On CCTV’s Soccer Tonight (Zuqiu zhi ye), a sign reading ‘Fuck You Japan’ is displayed in the background on the giant screen.”
“FUCK YOU JAPAN”
国新办：请各互动栏目，包括论坛，博客，微博，即使通讯和SNS注意删除有关“《足球之夜》背景大屏幕挂出FUCK YOU JAPAN”有关的信息。
Fuel Price Increases
February 19, 2011
From the State Council Information Office: For news on the fuel price increases issued by the National Development and Reform Commission, all websites are requested to close commentaries and news postings. Delete all related discussions on platforms such as micro-blogs, blogs, online forums, instant message services, and text messages.
Gui Zhen Tang
February 18, 2011
From the Central Propaganda Bureau: The media is not allowed to further report on Gui Zhen Tang’s production of bear bile. It is forbidden to hype this affair.
中宣部： 媒体不得再报道归真堂取熊胆一事， 禁止炒作此事。
February 18, 2011
From the State Council Information Office: Please immediately remove all news related to “leather milk” from the front pages of websites. Interactive spaces such as online forums, blogs, micro-blogs, and text messages are forbidden from hyping and discussing this incident.
February 17, 2011
From the State Council Information Office: It is not permitted in any form to repost or report information related to the distorted reports and malicious hype found on WikiLeaks that implicate the diplomacy, exchange reserves and investments, and other sensitive problems. All on-line interactive spaces are to thoroughly search out this type of information and immediately delete it.
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 an “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,” sends 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.