Minitrue: No Unauthorized Coverage of Shooting

The following 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.

Close all internet commentary on the shooting occurrence in , . Without exception, media websites must not follow up on earlier coverage of the event unless they receive an official news release through a formal channel. (January 4, 2017) [Chinese]

Chinese official media reported that a municipal official in Panzhihua city, Sichuan shot the city mayor and Party secretary at a meeting on Wednesday morning, injuring them both. The shooter, head of the Panzhihua Land and Resources Bureau Chen Zhongshu, then reportedly fled the meeting, before shooting and killing himself elsewhere in the building. The New York Times reports on the rarity of the occurrence, and a flurry of online discussion of the event that came prior to official coverage:

Privately owned guns are rare in China, because of a virtual ban on civilian use, and grisly attacks on officials by colleagues are also uncommon. So rumors of the shooting in Panzhihua, an industrial city in Sichuan Province, rippled quickly across the Chinese internet even before the local authorities confirmed the news.

Panzhihua was built as part of Mao’s plans to relocate factories deep inland, where they would be protected from a feared war. But the in this isolated site was nonetheless an embarrassing breach of the efforts by China’s president, Xi Jinping, to remake officialdom into a clean, impeccably disciplined bureaucracy.

Details were sparse, and there were no clues to the gunman’s motives. But the brief initial report in the state media sketched a scene of the head of the Panzhihua Land and Resources Bureau, Chen Zhongshu, bursting into a meeting at an exhibition center and opening fire on officials there. […] [Source]

At the South China Morning Post, Jun Mai reports further on the shooting as covered in Chinese media:

Panzhihua land and resources bureau chief Chen Zhongshu fired at the city’s Communist Party chief, Zhang Yan, and mayor Li Jianqin before fleeing the scene, according to Shanghai-based news outlet Thepaper.cn.

[…] Both Li and Zhang were sent to hospital, where their wounds were described as not life-threatening.

No motive was given for the attack and it was not clear how Chen obtained the firearm.

[… ]The Southern Metropolis News quoted an unnamed government source as saying Chen had complained to his friends that Zhang and Li were “ratting on him”.

Zhang’s official resume includes four years in various corruption-fighting departments. [Source]

Jun continues to note that the shooting comes ahead of a meeting of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, which begins Friday and will be chaired by President Xi. Amid his ongoing Party-wide anti-corruption campaign, which has long been criticized as partly rooted in Xi’s own quest to consolidate power, the president recently warned of lingering “cliques, conspiracies, and fraud” in the high ranks of the Party.

真Since directives are sometimes communicated orally to journalists and editors, who then leak them online, the wording published here may not be exact. Some instructions are issued by local authorities or to specific sectors, and may not apply universally across China. 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.