Minitrue: Turn Down Temperature, Strictly Control Content on Ukraine Situation

The following censorship instructions, issued to the media by government authorities, have been leaked and distributed online.

Regarding the current Ukraine situation: maintain nationally beneficial and sober inspections, guidance of focus, and control of the bottom line. In accordance with unified arrangements, turn down the temperature on public sentiment toward the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Commercial websites, local media, and self-published media may not conduct livestreams or put together hashtags, and are strictly prohibited from republishing foreign news reports in violation of regulations. Strictly control challenges to our official statements, vilification of our foreign policy, incitement of Sino-Russian antagonism, pessimism about Sino-Russian relations, hyping of so-called historical episodes, and dissemination of harmful viewpoints that support or adulate the United States. Strictly control extreme malicious speech supporting Russia over Ukraine, Ukraine over Russia, etc., and dissemination of any harmful content such as public anti-war declarations. (March 3, 2022) [Chinese]

These instructions on coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine were issued to internet companies by the Cyberspace Administration of China. Last week, a Beijing News-affiliated Weibo account accidentally posted internal guidance which may have reflected earlier official directives.

The above instructions on “temperature control” and one-sided support echo a shift reported at Foreign Policy on Tuesday, based on conversations with staff at three state-affiliated Chinese media outlets. Several Chinese platforms have announced mass deletions of alleged misinformation and warmongering or mocking posts, with Weibo telling users that “Peace is precious [… We] once again call on everyone to keep an objective and rational attitude while paying attention to major international news, and to participate in discussions and express opinions in a reasonable manner.” The New York Times’ Li Yuan wrote on Friday that the dominant tone remains strongly pro-Russian, observing widespread adoption of Russia’s framing of its invasion as a “de-Nazification” effort and uncritical repetition of Russian claims by state media. The BBC’s Kerry Allen also noted these trends on Twitter:

Censorship spilled onto the sports field on Friday, when state broadcaster CCTV declined to translate “a message of peace” from International Paralympic Committee president Andrew Parsons during his speech at the Paralympic opening ceremony in Beijing. Weibo comments on the incident “vanished almost as quickly as they were posted” according to The Wall Street Journal, which also noted that “CCTV appeared to have removed replays of the speech from its website and mobile app.” China is also blocking this weekend’s English Premier League soccer matches due to planned displays of support for Ukraine.

CDT has previously compiled and translated Chinese reactions to the invasion including censored anti-war voices and related comments addressed to the late doctor-whistleblower Li Wenliang on the “Wailing Wall” beneath his final Weibo post.

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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