China's Weibos Censor Discussion About Party Journal Article Calling for More Party Control of Weibos


On April 10, 2013, Red Flag Journal (红旗文稿), a magazine published by the Communist Party's flagship magazine Seeking Truth, published an article entitled "Target the Two Venues of Public Discourse, Solidify the Positive Energy of Society" (统筹两个舆论场 凝聚社会正能量). The article was authored by Ren Xianliang (任贤良), acting vice-minister of Shaanxi province’s propaganda department. Some excerpts:
In today's China, subjectively speaking there exist two venues for public discourse. One comprises traditional media venues such as the platform of Party newspapers, magazines, broadcasters, and press agencies. The other is the new media that is founded on the Internet. For some time now the core disseminations and expressed appeals of these two venues' have been at odds with one another, and this has not only directly challenged the bottom-line principle that the Party controls the media, but has also led to social divisions and confrontations based on class, severe damage to the government's credibility, and corrosive weakening of the fundamental principle that the Party governs the State.
. . . .
What is particularly serious is that some powers have manipulated online discourse, fabricating political rumors, maliciously tarnishing the image of the Party and the government, undermining the foundations of the Party's governance over the State. The 2013 "Southern Weekend" New Year's Greeting incident brazenly challenged the Party's system of controlling the news. Some staff used the Internet to launch their own "personal media" with speech that was "unrestrained" and that "contravened all norms," and their influence as just as great as that of a newspaper or wire service. It is as if others can raise up the anti-corruption banner, wave a "reporter" flag without journalist credentials, use foreign registered web sites, and then "re-import the goods-made-for-export" and use violent means to coerce and hijack local Party committees and governments. Some people have even likened to the chaotic online environment to an "online cultural revolution."
. . . .
The abrupt rise of the Internet and other new media, especially the appearance of blogs and weibos and other forms of personal media, has in fact undermined policies that banned private media and prohibited cross-border
oversight. Certain VIP weibo users frequently have tens, if not hundreds, of thousands, even millions, of followers, and go so far as to launch micro-magazines and micro-television channels. Online video is particularly subject to extraordinary blow-ups, with the power to propagate and influence that greatly exceeds print media and even radio and television.
. . . .
The Party controls the media, the Party controls public discourse, these are unshakeable fundamental principles for maintaining the Party's leadership, no less than the Party party controls the military and the Party controls the barrels of the guns. And given current circumstances it can only be strengthened, it cannot be relaxed.
. . . .
When it comes to control, it is necessary to boldly confront all obstacles, even those powerful media outlets, famous web sites, bloggers, and micro-bloggers. Warn those who need warning, ban those who need banning, and silence those who need silencing. As soon as there is any violation of law, rules, or discipline, resolutely handle it in accordance with the law, and show no mercy. It is only by using the law to manage new media formats, including the Internet, in the same manner as is done with real-world society, that we can turn it to our own ends and not be subject to external threats. Only then can give the public an online world that is ordered, civilized, and healthy.
. . . .
Online "opinion leaders" represent the aspirations of a sizable portion of the crowd. The are the focus of much public attention, and hold great sway over users' moods and online opinion. Administrative agencies must adopt many different methods to transform, foster, and cultivate "opinion leaders" who understand, approve of, and praise the general and specific policies of the Party and the government, and use them to influence Internet users and guide public opinion. At the same time, get Party cadres online, launch micro-blogs and speak on behalf of the Party and the government, and cultivate our own online "speech leadership," and occupy the the new public opinion battlefield of this new media. 

当下中国,客观存在着两个舆论场,一个是以党报党刊党台、通讯社为主体的传统媒体舆论场,一个是以互联网为基础的新兴媒体舆论场。两个舆论场传播基调和诉求表达长期分离对立,不仅直接挑战党管媒体的原则底线,而且导致社会阶层分裂对峙、政府公信力严重受损、党的执政基础腐蚀削弱。
. . . .
更为严峻的是,一些势力操纵网络舆论,编造政治谣言,恶意抹黑党和政府形象,瓦解党的执政根基。2013年“南周”新年献词事件,公然挑战党的新闻管理制度。而一些人员利用网络创设“个人媒体”,言论行为“无拘无束”、“无法无天”,其影响力不亚于一份报刊、一家通讯社。如个别人打着反腐旗帜,没记者证却打着“记者”的旗号,通过在境外注册网站,然后“出口转内销”,用爆料手段,要挟、绑架地方党委政府。有人甚至将网上的乱象称之为一场“网上文化大革命”。
. . . .
网络等新兴媒体的崛起,特别是博客、微博等自媒体的出现,事实上瓦解了不准私人办媒体、禁止异地监督等政策规定。一些微博大V,动辄几十万、成百万乃至上千万粉丝,甚至办起了微刊、微电台,网上视频更是异常火爆,其传播力和影响力大大超过了平面媒体甚至广播电视。
. . . .
党管媒体、党管舆论,如同党管军队、党管枪杆子,是坚持党的领导不可动摇的基本原则,尤其是在当前形势下只能加强、不能放松。
. . . .
即使对那些强势媒体、知名网站和名人博主、微博大V,在管理上也必须敢于碰硬,该警告的警告,该禁言的禁言,该关闭的关闭。只要违法违规违纪,就坚决依法处理,决不手软。只有将包括网络在内的新兴媒体,像现实社会一样依法管理起来,才能为我所用、不受其害,也才能还公众一个规范有序、文明健康的网络世界。
. . . .
网上“意见领袖”代表了相当数量拥趸的心声,公众关注度高,对网民情绪和网络舆论影响很大。管理部门要采取多种手段,转化、扶植和培育一大批理解、认同、赞成党和政府路线方针政策的“意见领袖”,通过他们来影响网民、引导舆论。同时,要倡导党员干部上网、开微博,替党和政府说话,培养我们自己网上的“说话领袖”,占领新媒体这一新的舆论阵地。
The article originally appeared at this URL: http://www.qstheory.cn/hqwg/2013/201307/201304/t20130410_222170.htm. But it was deleted from there and subsequently republished at this URL: http://www.qstheory.cn/hqwg/2013/201307/201304/t20130413_223026.htm.

The following day, the state-sponsored Southern Metropolitan Daily drew attention to Ren's piece by publishing an article entitled "Shaanxi Official: Some Online Discourse is Being Manipulated, When It Comes to VIP Microbloggers, Silence Those Who Need Silencing" (陕西官员:一些网络舆论被操纵 微博大V该关就关). These screenshots show that the article, originally available here - http://ndnews.oeeee.com/html/201304/11/46487.html - was quickly deleted.

These screenshots were taken on April 12, and show that Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo were censoring searches for "Ren Xianliang."

These screenshots were taken on April 13, and show that Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo were censoring searches for "Being Manipulated" and "Silence Those Who Need Silencing."


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