Ministry of Truth: Anniversary of Sichuan Quake

The following censorship instructions, issued to the media by government authorities, have been leaked and distributed online.

Central Propaganda Department: Tomorrow is the fifth anniversary of the Wenchuan earthquake. Please ensure that you strictly comply with the related reporting requests distributed earlier. Maintain positive coverage. Do not produce negative or sensational material. Do not produce reflections on so-called aftereffects. Increase checking of commentary. The leadership of media organizations are asked to personally examine all work. (May 11, 2013)


The “aftereffects” of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, which claimed about 70,000 lives, likely refers to concerns that dams and reservoirs have caused seismic activity. Zhang Hongtao, chief engineer of the Ministry of Land and Resources, called the 2010 mudslide in Gansu Province an “aftereffect” of geological changes wrought by the Wenchuan earthquake [zh]. The Zipingpu Reservoir may have contributed to the 2008 quake, as well as the 6.6 magnitude quake that hit Sichuan last month.

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.

Since directives are sometimes communicated orally to journalists and editors, who then leak them online, the wording published here may not be exact. The original publication date on CDT Chinese is noted after the directives; the date given may indicate when the directive was leaked, rather than when it was issued. CDT does its utmost to verify dates and wording, but also takes precautions to protect the source.

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