The China Digital Times excellent column “Directives from the Ministry of Truth” highlights the instructions officials hand out to media regarding how they want stories covered or not.
Recently they released an archived set of instructions relating to dealing with protests around the Beijing Olympics. It provides and fascinating insight into the tiny minds of the censors.
A pro-Tibet protester tries to take the Olympic torch, Paris 2008. (Yang Zhen Dong)
This week’s featured directive, issued in April 2008 by the Heilongjiang Province information portal, shows the power of “guidance” (引导) over protest in China. At that time, the Olympic torch relay was plagued at every stop by human rights groups and Tibet independence supporters. After a wheelchair-bound torchbearer was attacked in Paris, netizens called for a boycott of the French hypermarket Carrefour. “The biggest shareholder of Carrefour donated huge money to the Dalai Lama,” fumed the netizen demanding the boycott, “and even the French president has announced boycott of the Beijing Olympics.”
The directive below instructs provincial websites on how to direct online discussion of the boycott. Read the original Chinese here:
On-duty staff at the Internet propaganda office: Each website in every locality must adopt measures concerning netizens boycotting Carrefour and related propaganda management prompts to properly tamp down online discussion and prevent a loss of control from influencing domestic stability. Prepare your reports, guidance and management according to the following requirements:
(1) Give protection to the patriotic fervor of netizens who support the Olympics, who oppose “Tibet independence” and who denounce Western media’s distorted reporting and insults to China. Direct the discussion at the Dalai clique’s secessionist forces, as well as the vile material produced by CNN and a small number of other Western media.