Ministry of Truth
Kathie Wu: China's ministry of truth
24 May 10

It’s been a busy month for China’s central propaganda department (CPD).

In April, the Qinghai earthquake exposed tensions between Tibetans and the Chinese authorities. The disaster, just weeks prior to the Shanghai Expo, seemed likely to steal the limelight away from the celebrated international event. More recently the CPD’s skills have been tested by a spate of school attacks, the department responded with a press freedom clampdown, it banned reporters from interviewing the parents of the dead and injured schoolchildren. Also on the CPD’s growing list of media concerns this month were the state visit of North Korea‘s leader Kim Jong-il and last week’s China-US Human Rights Dialogue.

Faced with a possible outbreak of negative publicity, the CPD have been issuing internal “directives” on a near daily basis, the orders specify what stories news agencies can publish, how to publish them, and how to control and monitor the public discussions. Luckily for us, so widespread are these directives that there is a Chinese blog, the Ministry of Truth, dedicated to leaking these press guidelines for all to see.

Excerpts from some of the directives have been translated into English by China Digital:

17 May – Regarding sentencing of Taixing school attacker;  “only use Xinhua sources for pronouncement of first sentence, do not report death sentence, not not promote any other similar news items.”

14 May – Report “China-US Human Rights Dialogue” correctly, do not put related news on the front page, close comment sections.

12 May – [Shaanxi stabbings] …only publish the general draft from Xinhua, do not use information from other sources; do not place it in a prominent position; do not exhibit it for a long time; close the news commentary function.

11 May – News about Internet in Xinjiang must all use draft of media in Xinjiang, do not promote, do not hype.

30 April – [Shanghai Expo] … all media need to use reports from Xinhua or other central committee media; no other media should do its own reporting; no following or stopping leaders for interviews

29 April – [Taixing stabbings] … do not send reporters for interviews… Do not put it on the highlights section or on the front page. Do not give it a large title. Do not attach photos.

For more information about the Ministry of Truth, read this China Digital article.