The following censorship instructions have been leaked and distributed online.
Guidelines and Requirements for Reporting on Pandemic Prevention and Control Measures (13)
(December 24, 2022)
All media should vigorously publicize China’s continuing optimization of pandemic prevention and control measures in light of the changing pandemic situation. From the promulgation of the “Protocol for Prevention and Control of COVID-19 (Edition 9)” to the introduction of the “Twenty Optimization Measures” and “Ten New Optimization Measures,” there have been continuous improvements to reflect the evolution and current characteristics of the pandemic. Pandemic prevention policy is scientific, proactive, and under control, and is being carried out in a planned and measured manner. This runs counter to false charges, leveled by the United States and the West, that China was “forced to relax its grip” or is “unprepared.” The key central external propaganda media outlets should focus on getting this message across overseas. The Central Cyberspace Administration of China is requested to coordinate the promotion of relevant reporting.
Scope of notification: All major news organizations of the Central Committee; the Secretariat of the Central Cyberspace Administration of China.
Cc: Propaganda Department of the National Health Commission; General Affairs Department of the National Administration of Disease Control and Prevention. [Chinese]
After nearly three years of adhering to its “dynamic zero-COVID” policy, the Chinese government signaled a relaxation of COVID controls in early November, 2022. Later that month, following a deadly fire in Urumqi and a nationwide wave of protests in which demonstrators expressed anti-lockdown and anti-government sentiments, the government issued a further set of guidelines that put an end to the zero-COVID policy. December saw a surge of Omicron cases, with many netizens sharing their stories of testing positive for the virus, isolating at home, caring for sick family members, or scrambling to find medicines and medical supplies. Although the exact number of new COVID cases and COVID-related deaths is unclear, it appears that the current outbreak has led to an increase in “excess mortality,” amid emerging stories of “packed ICUs (and) crowded crematoriums” in many towns and cities.
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.