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 five directives were released on March 7, 2020.
Please take down videos of television dramas “Mission for Peace” and “Crashing Into Guandong.” Wait for notification to put them back up. (March 7, 2020) [Chinese]
“Mission for Peace” is a 2009 drama about China-Russian joint military exercises co-produced by China International Television Corporation, China Radio, Film & Television Programs Exchange Center, Department of Politics and Publicity of the Jinan Military Region, and Shanghai Capital Media Company and broadcast on CCTV. “Crashing into Guandong” is a historical drama about migrants from Shandong to Manchuria (currently northeast China) during the Qing Dynasty.
Regarding the Chinese Kuomintang’s March 7 by-election for chairperson, it is important to keep it low-key. You may report objective news on the circumstances and results of the by-election to Taiwanese and foreign readers, but do not hype related topics. Reports must not touch on our relationship with the Kuomintang, and must not analyze or predict future cooperation between the KMT and the CCP. If the person elected makes critical, false, or negative remarks about issues concerning the mainland and cross-Strait relations, they can be criticized. (March 7, 2020) [Chinese]
On March 7, legislator Johnny Chiang was elected chairperson of the Kuomintang (Nationalist) Party, following his Party’s resounding defeat by the incumbent Democratic Progressive Party’s Tsai Ing-wen in the presidential election in January. In the wake of that defeat, the KMT faced questions about how they would move away from their image as the “pro-China” Party. The Chinese government had supported Tsai’s opponent Han Kuo-yu and waged a propaganda and disinformation campaign during the election.
The Changjiang Daily article “Gratitude Education” must not be reprinted, commented, or reported on. Articles already published must immediately be withdrawn. (March 7, 2020) [Chinese]
In early March, Wuhan Party Secretary Wang Zhonglin faced a public backlash after calling for “gratitude education among the citizens of the whole city, so that they thank the General Secretary [Xi Jinping], thank the Chinese Communist Party, heed the Party, walk with the Party, and create strong positive energy.” The State Council Information Office subsequently issued a propaganda order targeting an article in Changjiang Daily which reported Wang’s remarks. As translated by China Media Project, the order declared, “This matter fully shows that with Wuhan now having been shut down for more than 40 days, the lives of the ordinary people have been affected to such an extent that there is resentment and anger, and all reports must consider the feelings of the people of Wuhan.” This incident was one of several missteps in the official management of public opinion during the coronavirus outbreak.
1. To avoid misleading the public, reports on novel coronavirus drugs and vaccines must be based on information released by authoritative departments, must be rigorously standardized and not overly interpreted. Content touching on the mutation of the virus and its harm to the human body must be handled cautiously, must seek advisory opinions from authoritative departments, and must prevent social panic.
2. Regarding the number of people infected with novel coronavirus in Japan, rigorously standardize [reports]. The passengers on the “Diamond Princess” cruise ship are not included in the cumulative number of confirmed cases in Japan. (March 7, 2020) [Chinese]
As the coronavirus continued to spread in China and throughout the world, propaganda directives attempted to control information around all aspects of the health crisis. The Diamond Princess was quarantined in Yokohama, Japan following a coronavirus outbreak on board, in which eight people died and more than 700 were infected. Reporting revealed a series of missteps by both the company and Japanese authorities which exacerbated the outbreak.
Concerning the collapse of a hotel in Quanzhou, Fujian, when reporting, information released by authoritative departments shall prevail. The story shall be treated with a low-key manner, without hype, and no connections are to be made to previous epidemic situations or related control measures. Do not reprint information from foreign media, do not assign journalists to cover, and do not publish live photos or videos from the scene. (March 7, 2020) [Chinese]
On March 7, the Quanzhou Xinjia Hotel in Fujian—which had been used to quarantine travelers as part of government epidemic control efforts—collapsed, trapping dozens of residents in the rubble. In the early months of the crisis, the government faced public criticism and even lawsuits over their handling of the coronavirus outbreak.
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.