CDT has recently acquired and verified a collection of propaganda directives issued by central Party authorities to state media at the beginning of this year. These directives were issued on an almost daily basis in early 2020, and we will be posting them over the coming weeks. The following directives were released on January 26, 2020.
Starting today, do not give prominent placement to positive comments etc. promoting the Spring Festival Gala Evening. A few positive views from mainstream or foreign media can be republished as appropriate, but we can no longer voice them ourselves. For the next few days, the emphasis should be on reports about epidemic control. (January 26, 2020) [Chinese]
At 3pm on January 26, the News Bureau of the State Council will hold a press briefing at which National Health Commission Vice Minister Li Bin will introduce the situation regarding joint prevention and control of pneumonia caused by the novel coronavirus. Please promptly complete related republication and distribution. (January 26, 2020) [Chinese]
For the near future, please cut back on overly upbeat content while arranging page layouts. (January 26, 2020) [Chinese]
When reporting on the U.S. announcement of the closure of its Consulate General in Wuhan and recall of its American staff, take authoritative information officially published by our side as the standard. Do not republish, cite, or comment on foreign media reports. Domestic media may not report on or cite possible follow-up reports on the evacuation from foreign media. Monitor the situation and republish positive views that are advantageous to us, such as positive evaluations of joint prevention and control, strengthening of international cooperation, and joint defense of regional and global health security, in order to help build a favorable global opinion environment. (January 26, 2020) [Chinese]
Two other directives were also issued, one reiterating the first and third, and another echoing the fourth, with the additional suggestion of “foreign dignitaries, experts, and media, and officials from international organizations” as potential sources of positive views. Issued three days after the coronavirus outbreak’s epicenter in Wuhan was locked down, these instructions show a broad scramble to adapt to the suddenly heightened gravity of the situation. This included dampening celebratory content that could have provoked a backlash, disseminating information about the outbreak and response, and handling external developments like the American evacuation.
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.