Minitrue: Take No Liberties When Covering Violence

Minitrue: Take No Liberties When Covering Violence

The following censorship instructions, issued to the media by government authorities, have been leaked and distributed online. The name of the issuing body has been omitted to protect the source.

All websites: from now on, do not hype, do not comment, do not modify headlines, do not distribute bloody photographs, do not link to old stories, do not publish commentary, and use only official wire copy on news related to violent terror attacks, trouble caused by mental disorders, or police opening fire. (June 18, 2014)


Following a series of violent attacks, many attributed by the Chinese government to Uyghur “extremists” with “separatist” motives, a “year-long, ultra-tough, unconventional” crackdown on terrorism has security tightening throughout China. In some regions, police officers have been issued firearms for the first time in the history of the PRC, and officers’ use of these weapons under hazily defined regulations has been the cause of some controversy. The South China Morning Post reports:

China’s decision to ramp up the police’s use of guns against terrorists has come under fire after cases where officials were questioned for opening fire in the line of duty.

[…] A petitioner protesting about land compensation died in Yunnan in mid-May after being shot four times by a SWAT member.

[…] Yunnan’s public security bureau defended the killing, saying the man was endangering onlookers. However, residents and netizens decried the “excessive” use of force.

[…] China’s gun regulations are vague and security forces may need more training to effectively decide when – and who – to shoot, according to legal experts.

“The relevant regulations stipulating the choice of gun usage are not defined clearly enough,” Yu Lingyun, deputy department head of the Tsinghua University Faculty of Law, told the South China Morning Post today. [Source]

While so-called “terror attacks” have no doubt been on the rise in China, the country also frequently sees incidents of violence incontestably unrelated to separatism. State media coverage of police shooting-dead a man who had stolen a truck and taken two child hostages in Shandong this week put emphasis on the efficacy of gun-wielding security officials in dealing with violent criminals. Mental illness is also often cited as a possible cause for violent outbreaks in China.

Update: For an idea of how broad the regulations on officers’ use of weapons are currently, see China Law Translate’s translation of the PRC Regulations on the Use of Restraints and Weapons by People’s Police.

CDT collects directives from a variety of sources and checks 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 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.

MiniTrue 真理部



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