Minitrue: Close Comments on Ex-cyberczar’s Investigation

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.

Regarding the matter of former Central Propaganda Department Vice Minister ’s investigation on suspicion of serious disciplinary violation, please close comments on websites, Wechat public accounts, Weibo etc. Find and delete negative comments attacking the system, and so on. (November 22, 2017) [Chinese]

China’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection announced this week that former “cyberczar” Lu Wei has been placed under investigation. Several relatives, colleagues, and other associates have also been detained or questioned.

Lu was the first head of the , a body established in 2013 tasked with “using information technology tools to underpin the Party’s authoritarian rule,” until his sudden replacement in June 2016. Although he retained his concurrent role at the Central Propaganda Department, his departure from the CAC and swift removal from its website revived earlier speculation of his downfall.

Lu was known for his public defenses and deflections regarding Chinese internet controls, such as insisting that the internet “must have brakes” and that “freedom and order are twin sisters, and they must live together.” In 2014, censors ordered the closing of comments on a report that Lu had denied “shutting down” foreign websites, saying “your website is on your home soil. How can I go over to your home and shut it down?” He insisted that foreign tech firms were welcome in China as long as they did not intend “to harm China’s interests, to harm China’s security, or to harm the interests of China’s consumers.”

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.