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 media work units and personnel:
- Do not spread or give credence to rumors.
- News releases on the 19th Party Congress must use Xinhua wire copy as the standard.
- Any interviews with experts or scholars must be approved by work unit leadership and the Central Propaganda Department. [Chinese]
The 19th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party will begin on October 18. The quinquennial gathering would ordinarily mark the halfway point of Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang’s ten-year leadership, and a sweeping change in top leadership with the retirement of their five colleagues on the Politburo Standing Committee. This would make the occasion sensitive enough, but speculation has steadily been mounting that Xi will defy apparent convention in order to entrench and possibly formally extend his rule—see Christopher K. Johnson’s recent analysis of the Congress’ “normative tripwires” at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. A long-running campaign to promote Xi’s personal image has built to "whirlwind" proportions, perhaps laying public groundwork for such developments. At the same time, already tight censorship and other information controls have been constricting further as the Congress approaches, with little relief anticipated after it ends.
CDT published a number of leaked directives in the run-up to the 18th Congress in 2012, which inaugurated Xi and Li’s rule. A set of 21 rules on coverage of the 2016 Two Sessions, offers further insight into the range and intensity of media controls surrounding sensitive political meetings.
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.