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.
Former Chinese men’s soccer player Hao Haidong made a subversive speech on overseas social media, which is a serious political event. All media platforms must delete the relevant information, make Hao’s name a first-level search engine sensitive word, close Hao Haidong’s account on all interactive platforms, and strictly clean up comments. (June 4, 2020) [Chinese]
Hao Haidong, a former star soccer player for the national team, recently appeared in two videos on exiled tycoon Guo Wengui’s YouTube channel to declare his opposition to the ruling Communist Party of China and to announce that he was teaming up with Guo and former Trump advisor Steve Bannon to create the “New Federal State of China.” The videos sent shockwaves throughout China, where he is revered as a sports celebrity. Reuters reports:
“I think the Chinese people should not be trampled upon by the Chinese Communist Party any more. I think this Communist Party should be kicked out of humanity. This is the conclusion I reached after 50 years of living,” he says in the video.
[…] Hao, a prolific scorer who played for the Chinese national team more than 100 times, led China to its only World Cup finals appearance, in 2002.
He has been outspoken on social issues and has criticised the Chinese football establishment, earning him the nickname “Cannon Hao”, but had not previously spoken out against the Communist Party.
[…] In another video, Hao read from a “declaration” of the “New Federal State of China.”
Hao’s Weibo account, which had more than 7 million followers, appeared to have been removed on Thursday afternoon from the Twitter-like platform. All entries on him on Zhihu, a popular question-and-answer website, had also been removed. [Source]
Didi Tang at The Times further reports on Hao’s statement:
“The Chinese Communist Party is a terrorist organisation funded by the Communist International, which has subverted the legitimate Chinese government in the past,” Hao declared in the video, released on the eve of the 31st anniversary of Beijing’s crackdown of the pro-democracy movement in Tiananmen Square.
“Totalitarian rule in China has caused horrific atrocities against humanity, total disregard for human rights, the destruction of humanity, trampled all over democracy, violated the rule of law, dishonoured lawful agreements, caused great bloodshed in Hong Kong and exported corruption across the globe,” he said.
“The crimes it has committed are too heinous to be tolerated! The elimination of the Chinese Communist Party is essential in breaking the shackles of slavery imposed on the Chinese people, and also in bringing about peace to the world. The New Federal State of China, as a country without the Chinese Communist Party, will be able to fulfil the needs of all Chinese people as well as ensure the prosperity of the world.”
He touched on sensitive topics, urging genuine autonomy for Hong Kong, Tibet and Taiwan, and accused Beijing of waging biological warfare on the world with the coronavirus pandemic, without providing any evidence. [Source]
Gerry Shih at the Washington Post reports on Hao’s statement and the response from the Chinese government, which quickly censored all references to it and closed Hao’s Weibo account, which had almost eight million followers.
Titan, a leading state-run sports website, quickly issued a statement that said: “Hao Haidong has made a speech that subverts the government and harms national sovereignty and uses the coronavirus epidemic to smear the Chinese government and spread falsehoods about Hong Kong. . . . We strongly condemn this behavior.”
Shortly after, the statement was edited to replace Hao’s name, which had become sensitive, with the Roman letter “H.” Hours after that, the statement was removed outright as the government opted to erase all mention of the incident on the domestic Internet, as if it had never happened.
Within 24 hours, according to the Internet monitor freeweibo.com, Hao’s name had become the most heavily censored term on Weibo — topping even “6-4,” the perennially censored reference to the Tiananmen crackdown on June 4, 1989.
On Friday, the government addressed the videos for the first time, dismissing Hao’s statements as farce. “I don’t have any interest in commenting,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said. [Source]
Geng later called Hao’s statement “absurd.”
Hao gained celebrity as a standout in China’s otherwise beleaguered soccer league. He led the team to their first, and only, World Cup appearance in 2002, where they failed to score a single goal. He is the record goal scorer for the Chinese National Team. He is known to be outspoken about the management of soccer and social issues in China. In recent months, he had publicly supported Fang Fang, whose journal of life in Wuhan under COVID quarantine became a lightning rod for nationalist internet users who felt she was depicting China in a negative light to the world.
Guo Wengui, an exiled billionaire with known ties to China’s intelligence apparatus, has lobbed a series of accusations of corruption and other wrongdoing against top officials in the CCP from his apartment in New York. In recent years, Guo has been closely linked to Steve Bannon. In November 2018, he announced that he was teaming up with Bannon to launch a foundation that will investigate the disappearance or death of high-profile Chinese investors. Guo Wengui has been one of the most censored topics on the Chinese internet in recent years.
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.