Minitrue: Trump’s China Visit, Delhi Air, Daycare Abuse

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.

  1. Include the following in front page lead stories, including for mobile apps, cellphone browser and WAP sites: Holds Welcoming Ceremony For U.S. President
  2. All sites, please include the following in front page lead stories, including for mobile apps, cellphone browser and WAP sites: [Exclusive V Outlook] Xi Jinping: Maintain the Strategic Leading Role of Head-of-State in Developing Bilateral Relations
  3. Demote images, and clean up comment threads: With Haze Off Charts, Delhi State Chief Minister Self-deprecatingly Says Has Become "a Gas Chamber"
  4. Do not send any more push notifications concerning the Ctrip daycare abuse incident. Related news must be moved out of immediate sight
  5. Do not send push notifications for negative human interest, crime, or entertainment stories
  6. On the police response to the Ctrip daycare abuse incident: move reports that three people have been detained out of immediate sight (November 13, 2017) [Chinese]

U.S. President Donald Trump was lavishly received in China last week as he made a state visit during a longer Asian tour. State media reported that he and Chinese leader Xi Jinping "agreed on maintaining the strategic leading role of head-of-state diplomacy in developing bilateral relations," a focus suited both to Xi’s domestic leadership style and to Trump’s broader emphasis on forging personal relationships with Asian leaders.

The coordinated promotion of official accounts of the visit illustrated by this directive was matched by widespread censorship of independent views. CDT Chinese editors highlighted wide-reaching keyword filtering and automatic comment closure on Weibo, sweeping up even innocuous posts on the occasion. The Financial Times’ Wang Feng reported somewhat similar observations:

Delhi’s chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, a former surgeon, made his "gas chamber" comment on Twitter as PM2.5 levels passed 700µg/m³—”equivalent to smoking more than two packs of cigarettes a day,” according to The New York Times.

Although the severity of the pollution has been widely contrasted with China’s own improvement on that front, progress has been mixed, and air quality remains a politically sensitive issue. It has been the target of several previously published directives. One, in February, ordered the deletion of an article by state media outlet The Paper on research indicating that PM2.5 pollution caused 257,000 excess deaths across 31 Chinese cities in 2013 alone.

The "Ctrip daycare abuse incident" refers to news of dozens of cases of violent mistreatment of children at a travel company’s internal daycare in Shanghai. Some children were beaten, and others force-fed wasabi. Three people involved were detained on November 8. Online outcry "totally overshadowed" discussion of Trump’s meeting with Xi, according to an earlier tweet by Wang, and authorities have been working to dampen it. The wording of the fourth instruction here is identical to some of that found in a city-level media directive published by CDT last week. A third directive involving the case appeared on Tuesday.

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.