Minitrue: Online Management Requirements For The Mourning of Jiang Zemin

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

Online media platform management requirements for the mourning period from the National Radio and Television Administration’s Online Media Department:

The “mourning period” will last from November 30 – December 7, and the funeral will take place on December 6.

Overall tone: solemn and dignified, affectionate and orderly.

1. During the mourning period, the color scheme of website home pages, app home screens, and pages that link to reports about mourning activities should be changed to black and white. Note: content related to General Secretary Xi or 20th Party Congress special coverage may not be changed to black and white.

2. Suspend streaming entertainment programs during the mourning period.

a. Suspend new online entertainment programming.

b. Pull existing entertainment programming from home pages and home screens, and use those spaces to recommend weighty historical and revolutionary main-melody content. Do not recommend World Cup content on home pages, with the exception of match livestreams.

3. Completely suspend bullet screens throughout the mourning period. Completely disable the “Like” function on mourning-related content. Do not show entertainment topics in “Hot Search” or “Trending Topic” lists.

4. Correctly handle the relationship between mourning content and other kinds of content so as to achieve a harmonious tone and avoid misreadings or misunderstandings. Do not use ads incongruous with mourning activities. Do not place ads before or after reports on mourning activities, and show no commercial advertising at all on the day of the funeral. Do not run ads whose content includes mourning for Jiang Zemin. Do not run any commercial advertising related to the mourning activities. At the end of the mourning period, resumption of normal advertising should not be excessively abrupt.

5. Streaming platforms should uphold the highest standards in terms of presenters’ clothing, adornment, words, behavior, programming content, etc.

6. In case of uncertainty, all platforms should use CCTV’s website and app as the standard. (November 30, 2022) [Chinese]

Jiang Zemin, who led China through the pivotal period from its ostracization after the Tiananmen crackdown to its accession to the World Trade Organization, has died aged 96, according to state media. Although Jiang leaves a mixed legacy, his tenure has increasingly been viewed with nostalgia amid the tightening political environment under Xi Jinping, with effusive praise for Jiang often being used as a veiled expression of discontent with his successors. Amid persistent rumors of his death, self-described “Toad worshippers” would frequently wish him long life, and several related phrases have (perhaps counterintuitively) been targeted by censors online. These sensitivities previously came to a head in 2014, when the installation of a 72-foot inflatable toad in Beijing’s Yuyuantan Park became a focus of subversive nostalgia, and subsequently a censorship hotspot. Jiang’s death is therefore particularly sensitive given widespread protests around China against not only harsh pandemic control policies, but also to some extent against Xi himself.

The websites of People’s Daily, Xinhua, and CCTV all turned black and white to mark Jiang’s death, though CCTV’s English homepage remained in color as this was published. Commercial outlets followed suit with the color change, though some, such as Sohu, appeared to drag their feet in downplaying World Cup content. The Chinese homepages of official media sites were headed by an identical banner proclaiming that “the memory of Comrade Jiang Zemin will live forever,” and announcing a “letter of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, the Standing Committee of ther National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China, the State Council of the PRC, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, and the Central Military Commission of the CPC and the PRC to the Whole Party, the Whole Army, and the People of Various Ethnic Groups All Over the Country.” (The same formulation was used to announce the death of Deng Xiaoping in 1997.)

An English-language report from Xinhua relays the letter’s content. It alludes vaguely to Jiang’s role in navigating “severe political disturbances” and “unprecedented difficulties and pressures” “between the late 1980s and early 1990s,” before extolling at some length the importance of unity behind Jiang’s current successor:

The letter says they proclaim with profound grief to the whole Party, the entire military and the Chinese people of all ethnic groups that our beloved Comrade Jiang Zemin died of leukemia and multiple organ failure after all medical treatments had failed.

The letter says that Comrade Jiang Zemin was an outstanding leader enjoying high prestige acknowledged by the whole Party, the entire military and the Chinese people of all ethnic groups, a great Marxist, a great proletarian revolutionary, statesman, military strategist and diplomat, a long-tested communist fighter, and an outstanding leader of the great cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics. He was the core of the CPC’s third generation of central collective leadership and the principal founder of the Theory of Three Represents.

[…] The letter says that Jiang was the core of the CPC’s third generation of central collective leadership. Between the late 1980s and early 1990s, severe political disturbances erupted in the international arena and in China. World socialism experienced serious twists and turns. The development of China’s socialist cause faced unprecedented difficulties and pressures.

At this critical historical juncture that determined the future and destiny of the Party and the state, Jiang led the central collective leadership of the CPC and firmly relied on the whole Party, the entire military and the Chinese people of all ethnic groups to unequivocally uphold the Four Cardinal Principles, and safeguard national independence, dignity, security and stability. He also unswervingly took economic development as the central task, adhered to reform and opening-up, defended the great cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and broke new ground in China’s reform and opening-up as well as socialist modernization.

[…] We must rally around the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core with greater resolve and purpose, and adhere to the Party’s basic theory, basic line, and basic policy, the letter says.

We must develop a deep understanding of the decisive significance of establishing Comrade Xi Jinping’s core position on the Party Central Committee and in the Party as a whole and establishing the guiding role of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.

[…] Eternal glory to Comrade Jiang Zemin! [Source]

At The New York Times, Chris Buckley offered a more mixed assessment of Jiang’s legacy:

[… I]t was not a coincidence that Mr. Jiang’s years in office were the golden age of China’s embrace of globalization. He won China’s entry into the World Trade Organization in late 2001 after years of contentious negotiations, primarily with the United States. And he overhauled Communist Party doctrine, modernizing a movement rooted in the working classes and peasantry into one that courted and co-opted intellectuals and an emerging business elite.

His critics in China and abroad viewed these steps as little more than tacking with the political winds. And in truth, Mr. Jiang’s pro-market leanings commingled with an intolerance of dissent. After members of the Falun Gong spiritual sect surrounded the Communist Party headquarters in protest in April 1999, he pressed for mass detentions, which set the pattern for later rounds of repression and for an increasingly powerful security state.

[…] Mr. Jiang will forever be known first as the man party elders plucked out of relative obscurity in 1989 when they were preparing to order the armed suppression of student protests based in Tiananmen Square. His hasty elevation to the pinnacle of China’s Communist Party led many to believe that his time there might well be brief and unremarkable. Even Mr. Jiang thought so.

[…] “You could see that he wanted to be thought of as somebody who was not the sort of retrograde, Leninist leader clinging to his notes,” said the journalist Orville Schell, who was on Mr. Clinton’s trip and who is now director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations at the Asia Society in New York. “He wanted China to emerge out of the chrysalis of its isolation.” [Source]

Another set of instructions published by CDT details requirements for movie theatres and e-commerce livestreams during the official mourning period.

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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