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 have recently been translated by CDT. The following two directives were released on March 6, 2020.
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. Promptly search for and dispose of extreme and negative comments. (March 6, 2020) [Chinese]
Regarding the propagation of reports on pneumonia caused by the novel coronavirus, the following items must be assured:
1. Regarding the matter of China’s external mask donations, do not report without unified arrangement to avoid giving rise to secondary public opinion.
2. Regarding concrete data on customs RNA testing of border crossing personnel, do not report without unified arrangement. (March 6, 2020) [Chinese]
The repatriation of Chinese citizens by chartered flight from Iran as COVID infections surged in the country was the subject of previous directives. One on March 3 didn’t mention infection confirmations, but ordered “low-key handling” of the repatriation, forbade the word “evacuate,” and also ordered a unified line on future coverage of their accommodation after arrival in China. The above directive repeats one from March 5, and also includes the additional request to clean up negative comments.
The narrative on mask and other aid donations and COVID-19 data—official and from civil society—has been regulated frequently amid a near daily stream of directives about the novel coronavirus outbreak in early 2020.
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.