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 websites: on the case of ten people (veterans) in Pingdu, Shandong obstructing official business and gathering crowds to stir up trouble and other related incidents, use Xinhua copy without exception. Do not change headlines, do not edit, modify, or excerpt. Without exception, do not report, comment, or draw parallels without unified arrangement. (December 9, 2018) [Chinese]
The incident, which took place from Oct. 4 to 7 in Pingdu City of Shandong, saw some 300 people gathered on a local square and some 60 assaulted the police and smashed a police van and three civilian vehicles for about 11 minutes.
The rioters used wood sticks, sledgehammer handles, pickaxe handles and dry powder fire extinguishers during the riot.
A total of 34 policemen and others were injured during the disturbance, and over 100 business outlets were forced to close, according to authorities.
Police later found that the suspects used the Internet and telephones to gather the crowds in the name of “military veterans.” They tried to gain support by spreading fake information of being “beaten” by local authorities.
Some of the suspects have been detained or imprisoned in the past for obstructing official business, causing disturbances, drug abuse, theft and swindling. [Source]
South China Morning Post’s Alice Yan offered a more detailed account of the incident, noting statements attributed to two of the accused: “bring wooden sticks and iron shovels with you. Hit their heads and beat them to death,” and “we should kill more people to shock the whole nation.”
The new directive echoes another issued on October 16, which warned similarly that “regarding mass incidents involving veterans, all websites and new media must not interview, report, comment, or reprint without unified arrangement.” Another sign of official wariness is the inclusion of several categories involving veterans and their skills in a list of tags purportedly applied to individuals’ profiles in Chinese police databases, translated by CDT in September. In October, The Economist examined recent outbreaks of protest among the PLA’s 57 million living veterans over complaints such as inadequate or unevenly distributed benefits. These have alarmed authorities, it said, with their high level of organization, cross-province solidarity, and potential to attract public sympathy, hurt morale among those still serving, and deter new recruits. Accordingly, a new Ministry for Veterans’ Affairs was established in April, followed by news of boosted stipends to disabled veterans, and the drafting of a new law on veterans’ rights.
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