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 five directives were released on February 4, 2020.
1. Reports on foreign assistance with prevention and control materials should be cautious and low-key. In particular, don’t play up our mobilization of global purchases of such materials, in order to avoid any obstruction to our overseas procurement work.
2. Brief reports on local extensions of the Spring Festival holiday period are permissible, but do not aggregate or compare, and do not link to, hype, or comment on the effects on economic development.
3. Do not exaggerate comments on the effects of the epidemic on economic development, and resolutely prevent use of the epidemic to express pessimistic views about China’s economy. Reports on the state of the stock market must strictly adhere to previous requirements. (February 5, 2020) [Chinese]
Reporting on the epidemic of pneumonia caused by novel coronavirus infections should proceed from the starting point of safeguarding epidemic prevention and control work, and achieve strict compliance with orders and prohibitions. Strictly follow guidance and information from authoritative departments. Strictly regulate sourcing, strictly prohibit independent newsgathering in violation of the rules, and strictly prohibit the use of non-standard sources, especially self-media content. Strictly prohibit citation of foreign media reports unless in accordance with unified arrangements. When reposting authoritative reports, do not twist their original intention, or use “clickbait” headlines. Do not use pop-ups or push alerts for material from non-standard sources, unverified information, or content that could have negative impact. There must be no supervision by public opinion or negative reports from other regions on Hubei’s epidemic prevention and control work. (February 5, 2020) [Chinese]
Regarding the progress of research into medication for the novel coronavirus pneumonia, strictly standarize sourcing, and report on the basis of information published by the national Ministry of Health. Explain the specific stage of research into each medication, and treat the curative effects of those that have not entered clinical use with caution. (February 5, 2020) [Chinese]
All directives obtained by CDT for February 5, 2020 dealt with containing information related to the novel coronavirus outbreak which in early February was showing no signs of soon abating in China. The first two directives listed above were near duplicates of censorship orders from February 3 on controlling domestic coverage and limiting the circulation of foreign coverage of the virus and the international community’s assistance.
Do not use the term “military”; “People’s Liberation Army” or “army” can be used instead. For the army’s distribution of goods, do not use “donation,” but rather “distribution,” “deployment,” “help,” “support,” etc. (February 5, 2020) [Chinese]
According to subsequent reports from March, beginning on January 25—the day that Beijing declared Wuhan a high-level emergency zone—Xi Jinping sent over 10,000 People’s Liberation Army personnel to Wuhan. The troops were reportedly “armed with more power than local governments” to distribute medical supplies.
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.