Minitrue Diary, February 29, 2020: South China Sea Maps, Mask Priorities

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 two directives were released on February 29, 2020.

Please strictly enforce use of labels and place names in line with the Chinese government’s in maps of the South China Sea; avoid the use of maps or place names that violate our South China Sea policy or stance in news reports or on web pages to avoid the transmission of erroneous information to foreign countries. Materials for foreign publication, especially in countries with involvement in the South China Sea and those including maps or place names related to the South China Sea, should be stringently examined and strictly reviewed, and the importation of foreign publications that violate our South China Sea policies, claims, and positions should be refused. (February 29, 2020) [Source]

The immediate trigger for this directive is unclear, but its instructions reflect Chinese authorities’ longstanding insistence on rigid adherence to its territorial claims in written or graphical materials.

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In accordance with the National Development and Reform Commission and National Health Commission’s guidance on the selection and use of face masks, it is permissible not to wear them in well-ventilated outdoor areas while maintaining a suitable distance from others. In order to guide standardized protection measures amid the return to work and resumption of production in all departments and across the country, people wearing face masks should not be shown in video or photographs in reports on spring plowing, outdoor construction work etc. in areas outside Hubei. (February 29, 2020) [Source]

These instructions show efforts to prevent unnecessary mask use in the face of stubborn supply constraints even for those on the front lines. A comparison of national guidance on mask use published in The Lancet on May 1 noted that although "some provinces and municipalities in China [including Shanghai] have enforced compulsory face mask policies in public areas […] China’s national guideline has adopted a risk-based approach in offering recommendations for using face masks among health-care workers and the general public." Various reports in the days and weeks surrounding this directive described shortages among medical workers, manufacturers’ struggle to meet demand, Chinese authorities seizure of millions of fake or substandard masks, and China’s efforts first to procure masks from abroad—a recurring subject in earlier directives—and then to reserve enough of its own output for domestic use as global demand surged. Governments elsewhere have faced similar challenges in managing supply and demand of vital protective equipment. See more directives on the coronavirus pandemic from CDT.

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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