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.
State Council Information Office: Reform of Monopolistic Industries
April 8, 2011
From the State Council Information Office: All websites are requested to repost on both their front pages and headline news sections the article, “Reform and Attack of Monopolistic Industries in the Twelfth Five-Year Plan.”
State Council Information Office: SCIO Unveils iPad Platform
April 8, 2011-04-11
From the State Council Information Office: All websites are requested to post in a prominent position the article: “China State Council News and Information Office Formally Unveils iPad App to Better Introduce the World to China.”
State Council Information Office: The “Rights Maintenance” Peasant Zhou Decai
April 8, 2011
From the State Council Information Office: All websites are requested to delete the posting “Proposal Offered to ‘Rights Protection’ (wei quan) Tobacco Workers Around the Country by China ‘Rights Protection’ Peasant Zhou Decai,” as well as all related information.
State Council Information Office: The School Motto “Esteem Morality”
April 7, 2011
From the State Council Information Office: All websites are requested to prominently post the article “The School Motto ‘Honor Morality’ Has Begun to Circulate Among Teachers and Students at Hebei Agricultural University (Hebei Nongda).”
State Council Information Office: The Song Meat Pancake
April 2, 2011
State Council Information Office: Plans for Japanese to Immigrate to Hainan Island, China
April 2, 2011
From the Ninth Bureau of the State Council Information Office: All websites are asked to monitor interactive spaces and immediately delete rumors similar to the following: “Breaking news: Japanese elites discussing plan to emigrate to Hainan Island, China.”
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.