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.
To All Media: Please delete the Xinhua Online article “Scrutinizing Tsai Ing-wen.” Its wording is inappropriate, and its appearance on media sites is having a bad influence on public opinion. In the immediate future (carry this out first, then wait for notice), all reports touching on the cross-Straits issue must go through responsible media personnel before they are published. (May 25, 2016) [Chinese]
An op-ed in yesterday’s International Herald Leader suggested that the new Taiwanese president makes “emotional,” short-sighted political decisions as a result of her single status. The author is Wang Weixing, a PLA officer and director of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits. The commentary also appeared under the headline “Tsai Ing-wen’s Extremist Political Style May Be Due to Singlehood.” The BBC excerpts Wang’s commentary:
“As a single female politician, Tsai Ing-wen does not have the emotional burden of love, of ‘family’ or children so her political style and strategies are displayed to be more emotional, personal and extreme,” the report in Chinese read.
It continued that her “erratic behaviour” influenced her political style and advised that she should take that into consideration, rather than “focus on long-term goals” for Taiwan. [Source]
Weibo users cried foul on Wang’s misogyny, comparing his opinion to North Korean media’s personal attacks on South Korean President Park Geun-hye. “Xinhua is spreading straight man cancer (直男癌),” slang for male chauvinism, writes one netizen. Others took the opportunity to criticize womanizing Party officials, amassing harems of “second wives” and “concubines.”
Critics of female politicians in the West haven’t shied away from personal attacks. Former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard was accused of being “deliberately barren.” In April, Donald Trump accused Hillary Clinton of playing the “woman card” to get ahead in the primaries, a swipe her campaign has now capitalized on. But Wang’s dismissal of Tsai Ing-wen is particularly telling about overt sexism in the Chinese political sphere, according to Emily Rauhala at the Washington Post:
There are only a handful of women in the highest ranks of the Chinese Communist Party, and the casual denigration of women is common in the party-controlled press. The women’s organization tasked with promoting women’s rights in China has helped foster the myth that women ought to marry young or risk becoming “leftover” by age 27.
Taiwan is certainly not free of sexism. But there are several high-profile female politicians in Taiwan, including President Tsai. And Taiwanese voters, for the most part, did not make her gender or marital status the focus of her presidential bid. [Source]
Another Sina Weibo poster indelicately noted that Mao Zedong’s serial marriages did not appear to foster political moderation: “That dead slab of bacon at 1 Chang’an Avenue had four wives, how come he was so extreme?”
Propaganda directives leaked last week warned media to restrict coverage of Tsai’s inauguration to that produced by state and local broadcasters and to “adopt a unified approach with authoritative media.”
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. See CDT’s collection of Directives from the Ministry of Truth since 2011.