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 26, 2020.
Reminders related to the novel coronavirus epidemic:
1. Keep a firm grasp when reporting on the coronavirus situation and control measures in foreign countries. Do not overly criticize or ridicule their "loopholes" or "mistakes." Do not make simple comparisons to China’s prevention and control measures. In order to avoid backlash from foreign countries, do not use terms like "copying homework."
2. Concerning the adoption of necessary entry prevention, control, and quarantine measures taken towards South Korea, Japan, and other countries, report in strict accordance with statements from the Foreign Ministry and other authoritative departments. Do not report control measures taken by relevant locations without unified arrangement to avoid inflaming public opinion. Do not use extreme wording or triggering descriptions such as "uniformly prohibit," "strictly prevent," or "completely close." "Clickbait" behavior must be eliminated.
3. Regarding work resuming in tourist areas, restaurants, malls, etc., this must be handled in accordance with the principles of moderation. Do not highlight or aggregate reports, guide the public to go out only rationally and avoid large gatherings.
4. Concerning research and development into a vaccine for the novel coronavirus, further standardization of the publication and information control process is needed. Use only authoritative information issued by the State Council Joint Prevention mechanism, Ministry of Science and Technology, and the National Health Commission. Don’t hastily publish unconfirmed information, and do not exaggerate the efficacy of vaccines developed by social organizations. Do not speculate about the vaccine prospects, and prevent inaccurate reports and confusing information. (February 26, 2020) [Chinese]
On the matter of the Hong Kong Special Autonomous Regional government’s announcement of arrangements for retrieving Hong Kong residents stranded in the mainland, do not push news segments in pop-ups, do not post on front pages, do not start hot topics in interactive sections, do not show in trends, and promptly manage extreme comments. (February 26, 2020) [Chinese]
Earlier entries in the stream of coronavirus-related directives throughout February had included similar guidance on the issues of foreign opinion, border closures and other restrictions, and medical research.
Hong Kong’s government had announced on February 24 that it would begin to evacuate some 2,700 citizens from Hubei after a month of lockdown. Such moves had reportedly been blocked by central authorities aggrieved at similar moves by foreign countries; one earlier directive contained detailed restrictions on coverage of the American withdrawal of consular staff from Wuhan soon after the lockdown began.
On the basis of this sample, please clean up and delete the articles, photos, etc. [listed]. Report relevant data on the clean up to the editor on duty. Take note, this sample should not be circulated. (February 26, 2020) [Chinese]
Please search for and delete videos and articles related to this video sample. If any information is cleaned up please report to the editor on duty. (February 26, 2020) [Chinese]
CDT has not confirmed what specific content was targeted in these directives.
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.