Minitrue: No More Reports on African Swine Fever

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.

Regarding the African swine fever epidemic situation, conduct no further reporting or editing. Existing content should not be reposted or commented on on websites, Weibo, WeChat, media apps, or any public accounts you control. (August 26) [Chinese]

African swine fever outbreaks have been observed in Henan, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang since the virus’ first appearance in East Asia in Liaoning on August 3. The disease does not affect humans, but has caused panic among farmers facing falling pork prices and a lack of preventative options.

Despite the above order, the past month has been cited as a success story for greater transparency surrounding disease outbreaks. From Zhou Xin at South China Morning Post:

Feng Yonghui, chief analyst at online pig industry website Soozhu, said the relatively swift and detailed reporting of the outbreaks was not a sign for panic but cause for comfort, showing that farmers and disease control officials were on the same page.

“Pig farmers have no incentives to hide [an outbreak] because they know they can receive an 800 yuan (US$117.50) subsidy for every pig infected with the virus … Local government officials know there’s no benefits for them to cover up,” Feng said. “It seems a mission impossible to check the physical condition of 400 million , but it’s actually feasible once everyone, especially the pig owners, are motivated to do so.”

He said the situation was different from the outbreak of blue-ear disease in 2006, when there were few subsidies for affected pigs, breeders tried to under-report disease and local officials were unprepared to contain the virus. [Source]

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.