Censorship Directives from the “Ministry of Truth”

China Digital Times has collected a series of directives from what Chinese journalists, in true Orwellian fashion, have dubbed the “Ministry of Truth.” These guideline start with the death of Chinese activist Li Wangyang who recently “died” in police custody and has made international headlines. This and other topics are off limits in China:

Regarding the news of Li Wangyang’s death in Shaoyang, Hunan and the foreign media reaction: all media outlets must without exception refrain from granting interviews, reporting or commenting, and must not reprint relevant information from foreign media and websites….

Central Propaganda Department: Yili Milk Powder and Shaanxi Forced Abortion

Regarding heavy metals found in certain batches of Yili Brand milk powder and the seven-month pregnant women in Yuping Village, Cengjia Town, Zhenping County, Ankang City, Shaanxi Province who underwent forced labor: if any media outlet reports on these stories, only Xinhua News Agency’s wire copy may be used. Do not hype these stories, do not exaggerate them, and do not offer in-house reporting or commentary….

Central Propaganda Department: India Arrests Eight Chinese Citizens

According to the Indian media, on June 12 Indian police arrested eight Chinese nationals. No media outlet may report or comment on either this or related incidents, nor may any reprint relevant information or commentary from foreign media and websites.

Back and forth, A freer press, a more restricted press. Nothing new. It even reminds me of some memos I’ve seen distributed by the masters at Fox News telling their “journalists” to cover Republican-related scandals with kid gloves while going after Democrats with everything they’ve got, slanderous or not. The difference is Fox News is not America’s monolithic overseer of the media and cannot dictate what all media in the country can and cannot cover.

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Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 22 Comments

So much for speaking more truth and being a real patriot. The “ministry of truth” is certainly patriotic with Chinese characteristics.

June 16, 2012 @ 6:13 am | Comment

My personal pet hate (one of many in China) is when Chinese people resort to “you just believe the western media” as though “western media” is a huge monolithic state-run organ like in China. The parochialism and the extent of the brainwashing that the Chinese govt get away with in the 21st Century still manages to astound me.

June 16, 2012 @ 1:05 pm | Comment

The difference is Fox News is not America’s monolithic overseer of the media and cannot dictate what all media in the country can and cannot cover.

Yeah, it just has 50-60% market share

Chris
My personal pet hate (one of many in China) is when Chinese people resort to “you just believe the western media” as though “western media” is a huge monolithic state-run organ like in China.

My personal pet hate (one of many directed at the West) is when Western people resort to “our media is not a monolith!” as though “western media” is not owned by a tiny, tiny minority of revolving-door stakeholders with vast executive powers

June 17, 2012 @ 12:39 am | Comment

http://prdomination.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/global-concentration_the-media-ownership-chart2.jpg

I wouldn’t be surprised if decision-making at Xinhua or Globaltimes was more deliberated than at Newscorp or Viacom.

Likewise Xinhua does not have huge operations overseas that spew anti-West propaganda at every opportunity.

The “Western media” is far more a force of evil on this earth than Chinese state propaganda.

June 17, 2012 @ 12:42 am | Comment

“Yeah, it just has 50-60% market share”
—you’ve just confirmed Richard’s point…it’s not monolithic. What’s CCTV’s market share in China…I mean, since you like to compare and all.

“a tiny, tiny minority of revolving-door stakeholders with vast executive powers”
—yes, but do these conglomerates dictate and restrict the topics of discussion, above and beyond what is driven by market forces? Are these conglomerates beholden to the government moreso than to consumers? If not, then you have no parallel to the “ministry of truth” courtesy of the CCP. And in the CCP’s case, the answer to those two questions isn’t just yes and yes, but they control everything; not just traditional media. Just ask the Sina’s and Tencent’s of the world.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if decision-making at Xinhua or Globaltimes was more deliberated than at Newscorp or Viacom.”
—that actually wouldn’t surprise me. I imagine issues like “can we run this story on Bo Xilai” and “how do we write an editorial to shoot ourselves in the foot” would garner profound and prolonged deliberation indeed.

June 17, 2012 @ 10:01 am | Comment

CM

“Yeah, it just has 50-60% market share”

Hmmm. It’s hard to take seriously anyone who says this, particularly someone who lives in the US. I’ll be generous and assume you know cable news and the US news market are by no means the same thing.

http://www.cjr.org/cover_story/dumb_like_a_fox.php?page=all

I wonder, though, whether you are one of those adding to Fox’s cable news market share merely out of the desire to see what stupid shit comes out of their mouth next. You may not be the only one.

“Likewise Xinhua does not have huge operations overseas that spew anti-West propaganda at every opportunity.”

162 branches set to increase to 200? A television network that covers 5.5 billion? A president who claimed his organization’s goal is to “break the monopoly and verbal hegemony of the West”?

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/indepth/2011-11/07/c_131233213_2.htm

Just because few people choose to watch doesn’t mean they are not trying.

June 17, 2012 @ 11:33 am | Comment

Americans are more brain-washed than Chinese. Chinese do not trust what the gov. says, or they might read between the lines. Americans are more brain-washed by whatever media they trust. I hope that China will never take American political system; owned by large corp. It is a mistake to practice the capitalism on steroid too; everything is driven by the short term profit. If everyone lives like an American, we need 4 Earths and it not sustainable.

China does need some political reform SLOWLY; chaos in a country without enough land to feed its people will be disasterous. However it changes; I hope that there will be no party for gays in Forbidden City or women are only considered for VP if they have down syndrome babies. Lucky for America, the idiots here will not be starved for a while.

It is annoying that any “western” noses nose into China; forced abortions are no good, but starvation is no better either. If there are 2.6 billion people here (double of the fertile land in China), I could not imagine what kind of cesspool it will. Even now, some univercities have been gradually surrounded by ghettos and not long ago, a couple of Chinese graduate students were shot dead near UCLA for apparent robbery attempt.

The news of the forced abotion was actually received quite differentlly on Yahoo from similar news years ago. Quite a lot of people start to understand the nececity for China to control the populaton growth. I even doubt that she was really forced to have the abortion because it was another girl (her second and she was only 22). It might be sensationalized by her to gain sympathy and hopefully have a boy later. In my opinion, she should not be given a permit because NOW she knows that she is an urban resident and she will be fined to have another child.

The Chinese gov. is too afraid of Foreigners and even a country woman knows how to take advantage of that, what a shame. Maybe that is one of the reasons some Chinese miss Mao.

June 25, 2012 @ 5:42 pm | Comment

@Chris, I do not understand why you have to stay in China; spying, (unemployed in America) teaching English you are not even qualified to teach here and feeling smarter than Chinese? Chinese believe that you should look yourself in the mirror before you criticize others and it is not unique for Chinese because Bible has similar sayings. I do not know who read this site, Chinese should know that one in four Americans have sexual transmited diseases. One in four children will be molested in America; boy/girl ratio is 1:2. Foreigners should know that China has strick law for child rapists; eligible for death penalty.

Quite a while ago, I read that a foreigner catcalled a woman in the region I grew up and got beaten by some young men. I usually despise this kind of violence, but the arragance of some foreigners deserves to be knocked down a little bit whenever I read the mindset of some of you. Stop fooling with Chinese girls and giving them diseases; Chinese women are for Chinese men. It is frustrating that I can not even convince my daughter dating Chinese only here.

June 25, 2012 @ 8:02 pm | Comment

China is part of American election, beleive it or not. Both parties have the tradition of China bashing during election to blame high unemployment rate on China. Americans beleive it; they are much more easier to be brainwashed because they have superiority complex and questionable IQ.

The local election includes China too; only more foolish and nastier. A bitch is barking loud for a Senate seat(?) and the propaganda is shameless; Wisconsin leads in paper manufacture and China leads in cheating, followed by words like sanction and punish. Well, I can argue that China led the paper making long before European “discover” the New World which was already discovered long ago by other people. American Capitalism has always been profiting on free or cheap labors, now with modern transportation, it is gone global. Big corp. benifit the most and they own both parties. I know nothing abount economics, but how can China arbitarily increase the value of Yuan after its workers were paid low? The poor of China will starve and no American will shed a tear, so you guy should just shut up about how many Chinese were starved by Mao. BTW, China does not exit because of America and it will not exit just for America. It is more environmently friendly (less transport energy) within EuroAsia, even Africa. I am sure Big corp. will go to other countries anyway and it is already happening because Big corp. can find cheaper labors.

Anyway, Americans are easier to be brainwashed, some of them partially brain dead already because of drugs which are shared with unborns, very “unselfish” mothers.

June 25, 2012 @ 11:29 pm | Comment

However it changes; I hope that there will be no party for gays in Forbidden City or women are only considered for VP if they have down syndrome babies.

Thanks for your contributions, Joyce. Brilliant.

June 26, 2012 @ 1:38 am | Comment

Needless to say, Joyce, you have some serious issues.

“women are only considered for VP if they have down syndrome babies”
—I mean, huh? Anyway, since almost all CCP apologists are male, I suppose your presence will lend some variety (assuming, of course, that you really are a “Joyce”), albeit cut from the same old cloth.

“forced abortions are no good, but starvation is no better either.”
—that would be a false dichotomy fallacy. Look it up.

As for inappropriate cat-calls and such, you might find this amusing:

http://tealeafnation.com/2012/06/shanghai-subway-tells-scantily-clad-women-to-expect-sexual-harassment/

Your mode of thinking appears to be as arcane and closed-minded (“Chinese women are for Chinese men. It is frustrating that I can not even convince my daughter dating Chinese only here.) as the Shanghai subway, so I’m sure you’ll appreciate their sentiment.

June 26, 2012 @ 1:42 am | Comment

@Richard – I’m assuming this is not Joyce Lau?

June 26, 2012 @ 4:11 am | Comment

It’s just a zombie.

June 26, 2012 @ 5:29 am | Comment

“I usually despise this kind of violence, but the arragance of some foreigners deserves to be knocked down a little bit whenever I read the mindset of some of you. Stop fooling with Chinese girls and giving them diseases; Chinese women are for Chinese men. It is frustrating that I can not even convince my daughter dating Chinese only here.”

Is it me or is this a most beautiful example of irony?

Richard, you must be really famous now – even Yang Riu is writing into your blog, albeit as a sockpuppet (the clue is in the daughter… ;-) )

June 26, 2012 @ 8:44 am | Comment

Yes, it would appear to be someone obsessed with Joyce Lau who likes to troll these pages. Yang Rui would be a pleasant surprise though!

June 26, 2012 @ 11:17 am | Comment

It is not Joyce Lau, as I hope should be obvious!

June 26, 2012 @ 11:38 am | Comment

@ Chueng

Romney has not been doing well with female voters. GOP was considering a congresswoman (?) with a Down-Syndrome child as VP, sounds familiar? I have not heard about it recently, but it did give me a good laugh. China must be a strange place to you, but what makes you think that Chinese believe whatever CCP says? Rumors might be more reliable sometimes; no wall can be thick enough to hide everything.

What makes you think that population can keep growing without dire consequences? Australia has rat infestation triggered by drought once every 10 years or so and it always goes like this; rats are everywhere searching for foods, rats eat rats after exhausting all resources, and the plague ends with piles of dead rats. Human being should control its destination better than the rat.

She definitely did not dress appropriately in public and the dark clothing would not have felt cooler either. If she meant to be sexy, it was much unsophisticated. Should she be harassed? I think not and nobody harassed her anyway. Women should never have to use sex appeal to get ahead that is anti feminism though it works. You guys know you are very visual and some women take advantage of the weakness. Palin winked and some men believed she winked to them through TV I did not like her because of that.

I might sound like a racist in one of my posting. With American history of racism, still very much alive in my opinion, I have been doubting my decision. My daughter was not motivated to learn good Chinese because there have been few Chinese where we live. She was quite surprised when I suggested she should date Chinese when she got older, because I had been raising her “color blinded”. Second time she was mad at me, and I am no tiger mother. I am thinking that it will be easier for us to all get out of here in case there is Chinese Exclusion Act II, but I do not want to make her worry and now I just try to point out thinly veiled racism in current events to her.

June 27, 2012 @ 8:03 pm | Comment

“What makes you think that population can keep growing without dire consequences?”
—you are just one logical fallacy after another. This would be a false dilemma fallacy. The ends do not justify the means. Population control, in some circumstances, may be a necessary “end”. But that doesn’t mean that forced abortion is a justifiable “means”. Do not bother responding until that concept has had a chance to slowly percolate through your skull. That said, I quite enjoyed the rats-to-humans analogy.

“She definitely did not dress appropriately in public and the dark clothing would not have felt cooler either.”
—you know what, if she didn’t break any public decency laws (and she didn’t), then she can dress however the heck she wants. How she dresses is no excuse for sexual harassment. That would be the point, one that evidently eludes you and the Shanghai subway authority. I had a feeling you two were thinking at the same level.

“I am thinking that it will be easier for us to all get out of here in case there is Chinese Exclusion Act II”
—it appears your definition of “thinking” might be overly broad.

June 28, 2012 @ 3:45 am | Comment

@ Cheung

I do not know what world you are living in, not reality for sure. People and countries have been, almost always, justifying “ends” with whatever “means” they have.

It is a serious national security issue if a country has no enough land to feed its people. In short term, you can trade whatever other resources you have for food; in long term (let’s say 50 years, not too long), your oil or whatever will run out or other countries will be over-populated too. Human being can end up much worse than the rat; the rat does not have nukes and rats after the crash at least will not live in nuclear winter.

Selfishness is the real universal law for all creatures, including human. Population control is important for China and thanks God; Chinese are not bogged down by religions. Family planning is a right law for China and like every other law, people breaking it should be penalized or nobody will follow, as simple as that. If you do not want abortions, use birth controls or have yourself sterilized which is free in China I believe. Inner cities of America are quite violent. If America has 2.6 billions of people, it will be either a failed state or a state with less individual rights than now.

Because the baby aborted was a girl, I have some doubt about her story. I hoped that someone will really investigate the story. It will not be a surprise that she knew it was a girl, didnot want pay the fine, and wanted the abortion.

That subway story is a case of poor taste to me. People can have all kinds of sentiments online, nobody really harassed her anyway. China can have its own social acceptance, I would not mind if the police dispense a gay parade in China. Men, hairy or not, in pink underwear can be considered indecent exposure.

I do not fixate on complete individual freedom without context a lot because humans are not solitary creatures, so individual behaviors should be regulated for the benefit of the group.

June 29, 2012 @ 2:08 am | Comment

“justifying “ends” with whatever “means” they have.”
—excuse me, do you English much? Like ever? I said the ends don’t justify the means. Let me draw out the intestines for you: the need for population control does not justify the use of forced abortion. Are you stupid, or do you just play stupid on PKD?

“Family planning is a right law for China and like every other law, people breaking it should be penalized or nobody will follow, as simple as that.”
—whether it is still the “right law” in 2012 in highly debatable. And the fact that it is “the law” does not mean the law is just, or the punishment is commensurate with the crime. Especially in China where it is the CCP’s law, not the people’s law.

“Because the baby aborted was a girl, I have some doubt about her story”
—give me a break. You are pathetic and a disgrace to humans.

http://tealeafnation.com/2012/06/after-forcible-abortion-local-government-brands-father-traitor-for-talking-to-reporter/

Isn’t that great? They force abortion on the wife, then they bully the husband for having the nerve to talk about it. Yeah, that’s a great system.

“China can have its own social acceptance”
—yeah, like “blame the victim”. It looks like the smartest thing your daughter has done is to stop listening to her mother. Based on the available evidence, seems like a wise choice. You seem to think like a dinosaur.

June 29, 2012 @ 3:06 am | Comment

My personal pet hate (one of many in China) is when Chinese people resort to “you just believe the western media”

My impression is that people in China may say very different things, and that they may contradict themselves more frequently than Westerners, for example. Statements often vary in accordance with the situation, rather than in accordance with beliefs. The same people who criticize me for watching “Xinwen Lianbo” with a straight face might, and who tell me that there are so many better (Chinese) tv programs, would tell me in a heated debate that they don’t mind to be misguided by censorship, or to get only filtered news, when it helps to safeguard stability, public security, “national defense”, etc. It really seems to depend on if the situation is combative or if it isn’t.

That said, they are people who I’ve known for a long time, and they aren’t thuggish. I’ve never heard them praising crackdowns on dissidents, on women who take advantage, etc.. And I think that’s an important difference. I’d never refer to thugs as “friends”, not even formally.

June 29, 2012 @ 3:39 am | Comment

Unintentional comedy gold from a rare distaff PRC troll.

June 29, 2012 @ 4:57 am | Comment

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