CDT has recently acquired and verified a collection of propaganda directives issued by central Party authorities to state media at the beginning of this year. These directives were issued on an almost daily basis in early 2020, and we will be posting them over the coming weeks. The following three directives were released on January 4, 2020.
Regarding the pneumonia of unknown origin that emerged in Wuhan, Hubei, use information released by authoritative departments as the standard, do not write baseless conjecture. Strictly prohibit publishing foreign reports, do not hype or link to the 2003 SARS epidemic, prevent fake news from triggering mass panic. (January 4, 2020) [Chinese]
This order echoes another from January 2, the earliest known directive on the coronavirus outbreak. This one adds the prohibition on publishing foreign reports and on drawing parallels with the 2003 SARS outbreak. Similar instructions are commonly seen in directives: the former shore up the primacy of approved information from "authoritative departments," while the latter aim to avert panic and avoid the highlighting of trends or patterns that may embarrass authorities.
If reporting on the January 5 funeral ceremony for Doctor Yang Wen of Babaoshan Civil Aviation Hospital, authoritative departments’ information shall serve as the norm. Do not make special topics, do not link to or relate to other incidents of injured doctors. Promptly clean up harmful information. (January 4, 2020) [Chinese]
This order also follows an earlier one, from January 3, on the stabbing of an emergency room doctor by the disgruntled son of a patient. Again, the directive attempts to isolate the incident from the long-running trend of similar attacks on medical personnel.
Concerning the change of the head of the Hong Kong Central Liaison Office, please republish and report in strict accordance with authoritative sources such as Xinhua, People’s Daily, and China National Radio. Do not independently gather or aggregate, or spread analysis without prior arrangement. Weibo, WeChat, Q&A sites, etc., strengthen content review in interactive sections, do not spread hype, don’t set up special topics or hot searches, strictly manage all types of attacks on the dismissal/appointment decision, and reject all harmful information about our Hong Kong policy. (January 4, 2020) [Chinese]
Former Shanxi Party Secretary Luo Huining replaced Wang Zhiming as the central government’s most senior official in Hong Kong. Reuters had previously reported that Wang’s superiors were dissatisfied with the office’s handling of last year’s massive anti-extradition, pro-democracy protests. His replacement was part of a broader response that culminated with the imposition of a draconian National Security Law on the territory on July 1.
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.