Minitrue: Delete Article on Shouguang Suicide

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

All websites, find and delete the article “Shouguang Villager Commits Amid Rain, Held Loan on Greenhouse, Courtyard Wall Collapsed, Penalized 130,000 for Second Child.” (August 28) [Chinese]

Severe storms inflicted upwards of US$1.3 billion in damages in Shouguang, Shandong last week, devastating homes, fields, and greenhouses in China’s largest domestic vegetable-producing region. A broader censorship directive to control information on the natural disaster was obtained and translated by CDT on August 23. This follow-up directive specifically targets an article that has since been deleted, but has been archived by CDT Chinese.

The article covers the suicide of Zhang Jinlai, a 39-year-old heavily indebted farmer whose property was severely affected by the storm. In 2015, just months before the relaxation of the one-child policy, Zhang’s family had been fined 130,000 yuan (about US$19,000) for the birth of their second child, and needed a loan to pay the fine. His greenhouse—which was also constructed using an outstanding loan—was damaged and he unsuccessfully attempted to borrow money for a pump to save it. He later committed suicide by hanging himself on the property.

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.