Minitrue: No News on U.S. Trade Dispute

The following  instructions, issued to the media by government authorities, have been leaked and distributed online. The name of one issuing body has been omitted to protect the source.

All websites are prohibited from publishing news and commentary on the China-US . Relevant forums, message boards, and interactive pages should be immediately closed. We request strict cleaning up in accordance [with this directive] to immediately commence. (May 6, 2019) [Chinese]

Urgent Notice from the Ministry of Public Security and the Cyberspace Administration of China: Local public security bureaus and internet management departments, upon receiving this directive, immediately organize personnel to control and delete rumors related to increased American tariffs on China. Violators will be dealt with seriously. (May 6, 2019) [Chinese]

Following Twitter threats from President Trump that the U.S. would raise tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods from 10% to 25% this Friday, reports claimed that Chinese officials were considering cancelling talks in Washington this week. At Quartz, Echo Huang notes that Chinese state media was “surprisingly quiet” on Trump’s threatening tweets.

At the Wall Street Journal’s Chao Deng and Lingling Wei report that, despite earlier uncertainty, Vice Premier Liu He will be traveling to D.C. this week to resume talks:

In pushing ahead with Mr. Liu’s trip to Washington, China’s leadership decided a full breakdown in the talks may be difficult to repair and would exact costs on the Chinese economy, according to Chinese officials. In doing so, Chinese leaders broke from a public position that Beijing wouldn’t negotiate under threat.

“There is definitely a sense of urgency that we should get this resolved sooner rather than later,” said one of the officials, who is involved in policy-making. “An all-out trade war is in no one’s interest.”

As part of Beijing’s deliberations, a group of vice ministerial-level officials involved in the trade negotiations huddled Tuesday to discuss whether it would still be productive to visit Washington, according to a person familiar with the matter. The officials dissected information obtained from the news conference held Monday by Mr. Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the person said. The officials’ conclusion: Yes. […] [Source]

Amid ongoing trade disputes over the past year, CDT has translated several relevant leaked censorship directives. Last June, a propaganda notice laid out several guidelines about covering trade conflict with the U.S.  In October, after tit-for-tat tariffs kicked the dispute into a higher gear, a separate directive ordered specific articles on U.S.-China relations be shared widely.

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.