China’s powerful State Council Information Office has ordered mainland media outlets to “find and delete” all references to Hong Kong’s unofficial democracy referendum. The directive from censorship chiefs, below, was leaked to the University of California’s journalism department.
The directive gives an insight into how explicit such instructions can be. It was coupled with an order for Guangdong TV broadcasts to block signals from Hong Kong.
HKU’s Weiboscope project also reveals that related internet searches have also been blocked.
Tens of thousands of people are employed by the Chinese state to operate a sophisticated top-down censorship system that keeps traditional and new media outlets in line. Dissident journalists and bloggers are often jailed and entire publications can be shut down. Guidelines are worded vaguely enough to allow authorities to crack down on almost any news story for ‘endangering’ national security or exposing state secrets. The lack of any formal instructions leads to self-censorship.
In fact, the unofficial poll is legal, but will not be officially recognised by the local or national government.
Voting will continue through the weekend, with many in-person polling stations reopening across the city…