Minitrue Diary, March 5, 2020: Coronavirus, Iran Evacuation, Healthcare Worker Commendations, Uyghur Labor, Party Titles

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 week. The following six directives were released on March 5, 2020.

Departments which republished the article “Wuhan Novel Coronavirus Pneumonia Patient Dies After Leaving Hospital,” please immediately withdraw it! (March 5, 2020) [Chinese]

Please give low-key handling to reports on our plans to send charter planes to return some Chinese citizens from Iran. Brief factual reports are permissible, but do not extrapolate, decipher, comment, or republish foreign media reports. (March 5, 2020) [Chinese]

If reporting on confirmed cases among Chinese citizens repatriated from Iran, take information published by authoritative departments as standard. Do not stress patients’ ethnic minority status, do not comment, do not hype, do not exaggerate, and avoid triggering social panic. (March 5, 2020) [Chinese]

These continue a stream of epidemic-related orders over the previous several weeks. The first of the Iran-focused directives echoes a longer set of instructions issued on March 3, whose other subjects included repatriation of Hong Kong and Macao citizens from Hubei. Earlier directives had similarly restricted coverage of Hong Kong and U.S. citizens’ evacuation. Another order issued on January 15 contained extensive guidance on coverage of Iran’s downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane, whose 176 passengers and crew were all killed.

For now, do not report on the commendations from three ministries this morning. (March 5, 2020) [Chinese]

On March 5, three government agencies—the National Health Commission, Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, and National Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine—issued commendations to 113 healthcare teams and 473 individual healthcare workers, as well as several healthcare workers who died, “in the field of epidemic prevention and control.” Those awarded posthumously include Dr. Li Wenliang, who was initially reprimanded for sharing information with healthcare colleagues about the then-unknown coronavirus, and who later died from the virus. His death became a rallying point for internet users demanding free speech and greater government transparency and accountability.

When reporting on the fight against the epidemic and the return to work and production, do not cover Xinjiang’s organizing of work positions for Uyghurs and other ethnic minority members in the interior. (March 5, 2020) [Chinese]

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute had published a widely reported paper on March 1 describing “the mass transfer of Uyghur and other ethnic minority citizens from the far west region of Xinjiang to factories across the country. Under conditions that strongly suggest forced labour, Uyghurs are working in factories that are in the supply chains of at least 82 well-known global brands in the technology, clothing and automotive sectors, including Apple, BMW, Gap, Huawei, Nike, Samsung, Sony and Volkswagen. This report estimates that more than 80,000 Uyghurs were transferred out of Xinjiang to work in factories across China between 2017 and 2019, and some of them were sent directly from detention camps.” More recently, Apple and other companies have been accused of lobbying to “water down” U.S. legislation meant to combat such forced labor practices, though the accuracy of that characterization has been disputed.

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Be sure to use standard Party terms for grassroots organizations and related positions.
1. Do not describe a “Party committee secretary” as “community secretary”: “secretary” is a Party position, and the expression “community secretary” is non-standard.
2. Do not confuse “Party branch secretary” with “general Party branch secretary”: Party branches and general Party branches are both grassroots organizations of the Party, but there are differences in their scope and functions, and they cannot be mixed up. Likewise, general Party branch secretary and Party branch secretary are two different posts. (March 5, 2020) [Chinese]

Several other directives had similarly urged recipients to ensure terminological orthodoxy on matters from COVID-19 to territorial claims in the South China Sea. Others were proscriptive rather than prescriptive, barring the word “evacuate” to describe repatriations from Iran, “potentially controversial” terms such as “tracking” and “tracing” from reports on coronavirus-related big data analysis, and the derisive “copying homework” as a jibe at foreign countries’ handling of the epidemic.

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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