China Power

Keeping a Lid on the News

Seeing China’s censorship in action offers a useful insight into government concerns.

For anyone that hasn’t checked them out, the about weekly ‘Latest Directives from the Ministry of Truth’ run by China Digital Times is a fascinating look at what the Chinese government doesn’t want you to see.

Drawing on a number of sources CDT offers a collection of censorship instructions that have been issued to domestic media outlets telling them how to cover certain stories, and which stories to avoid altogether. This offers a useful insight into the issues the government sees as potential trouble.

As CDT notes: ‘In China, several political bodies are in charge of Internet content control. At the highest level, there is the Central Propaganda Department, which ensures that media and cultural content follows the official line as mandated by the Chinese Communist Party.’

Meanwhile, the government also has an ‘Internet Affairs Bureau,’ (State Council Information Office) which sends out specific instructions to all large news websites daily, and often multiple times per day.

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So what was in the latest directive? The most interesting points this week are the ongoing suggestions for general coverage:

All items related to the following should be brought together and cleaned up:

a) Do not play up luxurious and wealthy lifestyles

b) Do not hype the ‘rich second generation’ (i.e. wealthy people born in the 1980s after the institution of the reform and opening policy), or problems related to the income gap.

c) Do not hype immigration

d) Do not hype the housing benefits and wages of public officials.

e) Do not hype the darker sides of society (political stories, satirical stories)

f) Do not hype or play up vulgarity