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.
Websites and new media in all regions: gather Xinwen Lianbo’s seven recent reports involving Hong Kong into a special topic, titled: “Important! Xinwen Lianbo reports focus on Hong Kong.” Uniformly promote this special topic with pop-up alerts following this standard language: “Important! Xinwen Lianbo reports focus on Hong Kong. Click for more details.” Implement within 30 minutes; send screenshots. (August 15, 2019) [Chinese]
Websites and new media in all regions: uniformly promote this report involving Hong Kong with pop-up alerts following this standard language: “Chinese students overseas loudly sing national anthem in opposition to ‘Hong Kong independence,’ use umbrellas to shield national flag from rain. Click for more details.” Implement within 30 minutes; send screenshots. (August 16, 2019) [Chinese]
Websites and new media in all regions: uniformly promote this report involving Hong Kong with pop-up alerts following this standard language: “24 hours in Hong Kong—What happened in Hong Kong on August 16? A quick recap. Click for more details.” Implement within 30 minutes; send screenshots. (August 17, 2019) [Chinese]
Websites and official media Weibo and WeChat accounts in all regions: uniformly promote this report on Hong Kong, "Conversation with Zheng Yongnian: how to bring the Hong Kong disturbance to a conclusion," with pop-up alerts following this standard language: "People’s Daily interviews Zheng Yongnian: cutting off the water supply could end the chaos in Hong Kong." Implement within 30 minutes; send screenshots. Also, report figures for traffic and positive comments after the first day. (August 18, 2019) [Chinese]
Websites and official media Weibo and WeChat accounts in all regions: uniformly change the heading "People’s Daily interviews Zheng Yongnian: cutting off the water supply could end the chaos in Hong Kong" to "Conversation with Zheng Yongnian: how to bring the Hong Kong disturbance to a conclusion." (August 20, 2019) [Chinese]
Protests in Hong Kong over suspended extradition rules and local authorities’ response to earlier demonstrations continued this weekend with the second largest rally yet, according to organizers’ estimates of 1.7 million total participants. The march was peaceful, and the weekend was the first in weeks to pass without use of tear gas. Chief Executive Carrie Lam responded with no more than the vague promise of a "platform for dialogue." Moreover, the official pledge to "begin sincere dialogue … when everything has calmed down" suggests that even peaceful demonstrations must first stop, a likely unrealistic condition in the absence of concrete concession. The stabbing of three protest supporters, which left a journalist critically wounded, and the release of video showing a handcuffed prisoner being beaten by police in June also appear likely to strain the current calm. (The victim’s arrest was unrelated to the protests. Three officers have now been arrested.)
The reference to "shielding the national flag" is implicitly contrasted with several incidents in which protesters "desecrated" national emblems. Last week, five people were arrested for throwing the PRC flag into Victoria Harbor earlier this month, and now face up to three years in prison. The episode spawned a viral hashtag on Chinese social media, "the five-star red flag has 1.4 billion protectors." Following the same formula, a Chinese journalist beaten as a suspected infiltrator by protestors at Hong Kong airport was said to have "1.4 billion family members," while a People’s Daily commentary on the incident ended with the assurance that "the 1.4 billion Chinese are united as one barrier, and they can stop any flood that threatens to destroy our country and our people." (Demographer Yi Fuxian’s claim that the national flag has only 1.28 billion protectors has been refuted as "against common sense.")
The splashing of ink on the national emblem at the mainland Liaison Office on July 21 prompted a then-unprecedented barrage of condemnation from authoritative state media, with Xinhua responding (per The Wall Street Journal’s translations) that "the blatant desecration of the state emblem represents a trampling of national dignity and sentiment"; People’s Daily, that Hong Kongers "must recognize the violent and damaging nature of the extreme minority of radicalists, and firmly protect ‘one country, two systems’"; and CCTV that "if we allow these black sheep who forget their ancestors to wantonly disregard the law, behave unscrupulously, trample on Hong Kong’s rule of law and challenge the central government’s authority, what rule of law and what future can Hong Kong speak of?"
Writing at Hong Kong Free Press last month, Ilaria Maria Sala noted that the authorities appeared more perturbed by treatment of the country’s insignia than that of its people. Images of discarded national flags tossed onto garbage heaps after pro-China demonstrations have raised some questions about the sincerity of this concern.
The recap mentioned in the third directive covered the resignation of two Cathay Pacific executives; a pro-police rally in Hong Kong; a police notice of opposition to subsequent anti-extradition protests; a statement by district council chairmen in support of HK government policies; a warning against illegal behavior from the HK airport authority; Citibank’s downgraded growth forecast for HK; the territory’s worst first-half economic performance since 2009; criticial comments by China’s U.K. ambassador on Western media coverage of the protests; illegal violence by protesters; Hong Kong opposition’s "hijacking" of the education system, leading to "abandoned youth"; and "Mulan" actor Liu Yifei’s statement of support for Hong Kong police on Weibo.
The fourth directive echoes a widespread pro-China talking point about the proportion of Hong Kong’s water, food, and electricity that come from mainland China. The pop-up alert sparked a backlash, however. Zheng, a Singapore-based political scientists, said he had been misquoted, and the relevant organs backpedaled with the fifth directive.
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.