Minitrue Diary, February 6, 2020: No War Rhetoric or Clickbait on Epidemic; Death of Li Wenliang

CDT has recently acquired and verified a collection of directives issued by central Party authorities to 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 6, 2020.

In reports on fighting back against the epidemic, no longer use warfare-related terms and expressions. (February 6, 2020) [Source]

Regarding reports on the spread of novel coronavirus:
1. Use information published by authoritative departments such as the National Health Commission as standard, and do not publish conjecture, experts’ opinions, research findings etc. that have not been approved by authoritative departments without permission.
2. Strictly standardize sourcing. Only use reports from authoritative media. It is strictly prohibited to use material from non-standard sources, especially self-media.
3. In the absence of unified arrangements, it is strictly prohibited to cite foreign media reports without permission. When reposting authoritative reports, do not distort their original intent or use "clickbait" headlines.
4. Do not use pop-ups or push alerts for content from non-standard sources, unverified content, or content that might have negative impacts. (February 6, 2020) [Source]

Standardize terminology in reports on the epidemic. Do not use "the second Wuhan" to refer to other locations severely hit by the epidemic, and do not refer to other regions’ support for Hubei with the shorthand "Hub-Aid." (February 6, 2020) [Source]

These continue a stream of directives on the substance, tone, and sourcing of content related to the COVID-19 epidemic. The slogan rendered here as "Hub-Aid" is 援鄂 yuán È, which refers to the province by an official shorthand derived from the name of a pre-Imperial state which occupied some of the same land.

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Regarding the death of Doctor Li Wenliang of Wuhan Central Hospital, rigidly adhere to standard sources. Reports citing self-media content without permission are strictly forbidden, and sites may not use pop-up alerts, comment, or sensationalize. Safely control the temperature of interactive sections, do not set up special topic sections, gradually withdraw the topic from Hot Search lists, and strictly manage harmful information. (February 6, 2020) [Source]

Do not report on the death of Doctor Li Wenliang of Wuhan Central Hospital. (February 6, 2020) [Source]

Li Wenliang’s death, officially and controversially recorded early in the morning of February 7 after hours of reported “political resuscitation,” became a focal point for public anger at the censorship and opacity which had given the outbreak space to grow. Li was one of eight then-unnamed people whose disciplining for "spreading rumors" about the new disease had been widely publicized as a cautionary tale. It later emerged that all eight were medical personnel who had tried to sound the alarm. Li’s forced promise to police that he would not share further information and his comment in an interview from his hospital bed that "a healthy society should have more than one voice" became rallying cries for public indignation. The comments on Li’s final Weibo post were adopted as a "Wailing Wall" for users’ anxieties and frustrations with lockdown and life in general, while the authorities sought to co-opt the doctor as a loyal Party member and heroic martyr of the early fight against the virus.

The first of these two directives was also obtained separately by CDT, and published on February 6.

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..


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