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 seven directives were released on February 24, 2020.
Regarding the Panchen Lama’s Tibetan New Year greeting, it must not appear on front pages. Control the temperature in interactive [comment] sections, do not set up topics or hot searches. Do not increase propagation about or hype Tibetan Buddhism. (February 24, 2020) [Chinese]
The Panchen Lama is the second highest spiritual leader in Tibetan Buddhism, following the Dalai Lama. In 1995, the Dalai Lama had followed Buddhist ritual to select the 11th Panchen Lama, but the six-year-old boy he named, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, soon disappeared from public view and is presumed to be in state custody. Soon after his disappearance, the Chinese Communist Party named Gyaltsen Norbu as the Panchen Lama, but most Tibetan Buddhists don’t recognize his legitimacy. While Gyaltsen Norbu has been very low-profile for the past 25 years, in recent months he has played a more public role. During the Lunar New Year, he issued a public statement praising the CCP’s religious policies.
Concerning Gui Minhai, do not report, forward, or comment without previous unified arrangement. (February 24, 2020) [Chinese]
Hong Kong-based Swedish citizen Gui Minhai was sentenced to ten years in prison in late February for “illegally providing intelligence” to foreigners. Gui was one of five Hong Kong booksellers who were detained from abroad and brought to China in 2015. Gui’s location was unknown until he appeared on CCTV in January 2016 making a forced confession. He is the last of the five to remain in prison. A previous directive on February 22 also limited “unauthorized” reporting on his case.
Do not report on the Central Civilization Office of the Central Propaganda Department’s launching of volunteer care activities in Wuhan. (February 24, 2020) [Chinese]
Recently, reports concerning the novel coronavirus epidemic situation have included incorrectly named administrative divisions. For example, “Beizhou County, Jinzhou” in Liaoning was mislabeled as “Panjin” Liaoning, and “Loudi, Hunan” mistakenly referred to as “Loudi, Hubei.” Please pay close attention to administrative divisions and affiliations to ensure accuracy in news reports. (February 24, 2020) [Chinese]
These three directives are part of a stream of near daily orders on how to report on the coronavirus pandemic. Several previous directives had also limited coverage of civil society aid in the midst of the crisis, especially donations from “disadvantaged social groups.”
Concerning the 16th meeting of the Standing Committee of the 13th National People’s Congress, strictly regulate source material, use wire copy from Xinhua News Agency and reports from supervisory agency China Media Group. Regulate posts and comments. (February 24, 2020) [Chinese]
On February 24, the Standing Committee for the NPC announced it would delay its annual parliamentary meetings in Beijing due to the COVID crisis. The meetings were later held in May.
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.