From time to time, an oops moment in the Chinese media offers us a glimpse of how things work on the inside of a controlled media system. This week we had just such a case — and a humorous one at that. It happened on December 5, as the Fuzhou Daily (抚州日报), the official newspaper of the top Party leadership in the city of Fuzhou, ran a report on page two called “Lei Jianrong: An Industrious Leader” (雷建荣: 担当实干的”领头雁”) that sang the praises of a top county official in the urban management department. The problem was that this official had already been swept up in a corruption case several weeks earlier. Apparently, the newspaper had readied a report praising the official, but had subsequently forgotten to withdraw it from the roster of articles due to run.

But the biggest story in the media this week was of course the arrest  in Canada of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou(孟晚舟. CMP’s full translation of the strongly worded response in the People’s Daily is linked below.

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THIS WEEK IN CHINA’S MEDIA
December 1-7, 2018

➢ Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou Arrested in Canada on Day of Xi-Trump Meeting, Party Media Weigh In
➢ As Chinese media choose the 10 most popular phrases of 2018, “community of destiny” takes the lead
➢ Fuzhou Daily accidentally publishes propaganda praising official under investigation for corruption
➢ City of Beijing includes “media supervision” on its list of monthly assessment criteria
➢ Hong Kong News-Expo opens its door, the first museum to the news industry in Asia

[1] Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou Arrested in Canada on Day of Xi-Trump Meeting, Party Media Weigh In

On December 1, police in Canada, responding to an extradition request from authorities in the United States, arrested Meng Wanzhou (孟晚舟), the chief financial officer (CFO) of the Chinese telecoms equipment manufacturer Huawei, as she was transferring flights in Vancouver. News of the arrest was not reported until December 5, when Canada’s Globe and Mail broke the story.

It was only later revealed that the arrest had happened on the very same day that Chinese President Xi Jinping had met with U.S. President Donald Trump in Buenos Aires, Argentina. China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported shortly after the Xi-Trump meeting that discussions had been productive and an “important consensus” (重要共识) reached on trade issues.

On December 9, the People’s Daily ran an official commentary called “The Legal and Reasonable Rights of Chinese Citizens Cannot Be Violated” (中国公民合法、正当权益不容侵犯). The commentary was attributed to “Zhong Sheng” (钟声), an official pen name used from time to time in the People’s Daily to comment from the Party’s official position on issues of international affairs. “This is a serious violation of the legal and reasonable rights of a Chinese citizen,” said the commentary, which threatened Canada with severe consequences if Meng was not immediately released. “The methods are unacceptable, the justifications unreasonable, and it is unacceptable and of a most vile nature.” CMP’s full translation of the commentary is here.

Despite the severe consequences promised for Canada in the People’s Daily commentary, the official Xinhua News Agency pointed the blame more directly at the United States. “The Canadian side,” said one Xinhua commentary, “goes against international law to blindly follow the United States, and pay the bill for America’s hegemonic ways.”

Key Sources:
People’s Daily (人民日报): 中国公民合法、正当权益不容侵犯(钟声)
Xinhua Online (新华网): 新华国际时评:中国公民合法权益不容侵犯
Xinhua Online: “为今后一个时期中美关系发展指明方向”——解读中美元首布宜诺斯艾利斯会晤
The Beijing News (新京报网): 华为CFO孟晚舟在温哥华被捕 中方向美、加严正交涉

[2] As Chinese media choose the 10 most popular phrases of 2018, “community of destiny” takes the lead

On December 3, the magazine Yaowen Jiaozi (咬文嚼字), a publication launched in 1995 by the Shanghai Cultural Publishing Group, published its list of the top-ten phrases in 2018. Two terms on the list come from the official political discourse of the Chinese Communist Party. They are “community of common destiny” (命运共同体), a key foreign policy phrase of President Xi Jinping, and “Dian Xiao Er,” a term that has come to refer to local government support of the corporate sector.

As Yaowen Jiaozi explained the first of these phrases — perhaps with a bit of wishful thinking — the notion of a “community of common destiny” was raised in numerous settings by President Xi Jinping after the 18th National Congress of the CCP in 2012, and promptly “became a popular phrase all round the world.” The phrase “Dian Xiao Er” is a reference to teashops and guesthouses in previous centuries in China, which had special assistants that would greet guests. A number of government leaders, including in Shanghai and in Zhejiang province, have previously used the the term to refer to the public service role of government departments, saying that leaders and cadres should “serve as the ‘Dian Xiao Er’ of companies and the grassroots.” This year, the term took on a new meaning, that of promoting local business development, referring to government officials who show attentiveness to companies.

Other terms on the list included “Koi” (锦鲤), “official announcement” (官宣), “I can see [it] in their eyes” (确认过眼神), and “left the group” (退群). The last of these terms, “left the group,” is a two-character phrase generally used when someone opts out of an online chat group on platforms like WeChat. The term has become popular more recently to talk about international affairs, particularly the way the United States has abandoned international pacts such as the Paris Agreement on climate change, or the Iran Nuclear Deal. The term also came to be used quite regularly this year in news reports.

Key Sources:
Zhengzhou Evening Post (郑州晚报): 《咬文嚼字》2018年十大流行语发布锦鲤、官宣、佛系、巨婴、杠精等上榜
Procuratorate Daily (检察日报): “店小二”的新与旧
Worker’s Daily (工人日报): 年度流行语:社会的一面镜子
Liberation Daily (解放日报): 《咬文嚼字》编辑部“官宣”2018年度十大流行语——命运共同体、锦鲤、店小二入选

[3] Fuzhou Daily accidentally publishes propaganda praising official under investigation for corruption

On December 5, Fuzhou Daily (抚州日报), the official newspaper of the top Party leadership in the city of Fuzhou, ran a report on page two called “Lei Jianrong: An Industrious Leader” (雷建荣: 担当实干的”领头雁”) that sang the praises of the chief of the Urban Management Department (城管局) in Le’an County (乐安县). The article said, for example that Lei Jianrong had “a fierce work ethic and sense of responsibility, works diligently in government to get things done, making positive contributions to the building of rule of law and a harmonious and beautiful Le’an.”

But there was problem. In mid-November, Lei Jianrong had fallen under serious allegations of corruption. The top Party leadership of Fuzhou had published a notice about the case on its website, and many media had followed up with reports of his wrongdoing.

Fuzhou Daily quickly discovered the error and pulled the article praising Lei from the digital version of the paper. The article was also scrubbed from Fuzhou News (抚州新闻网), the local official news website. The propaganda article in question was apparently prepared in advance of the announcement that Lei was under investigation, but was not removed from the newspaper’s system after the news of his fall from grace became public.

Key Sources:
The Paper (澎湃新闻网): 已落马官员被当作“实干领头雁”宣传,抚州日报急撤报纸版面
Beijing Great Wall (长城网): 落马官员与“领头雁”的距离就差一篇报道?
WeChat public account “Media Observer” (传媒大观察): 《抚州日报》闹乌龙,总编辑应承担责任
Jiangxi Law (江西法制网): 赣州、景德镇、抚州四名干部涉嫌严重违纪违法被查
WeChat public account “Jiangnan Metropolis Daily” (江南都市报): 乐安县公安局党委委员、县城市管理局局长雷建荣接受纪律审查和监察调查
WeChat public account “Le’an Fabu” (乐安发布): 乐安县公安局党委委员、县城市管理局局长雷建荣接受纪律审查和监察调查

[4] City of Beijing includes “media supervision” on its list of monthly assessment criteria

On November 30, the city of Beijing held a monthly meeting assessment meeting for district leaders, a session during which top district officials are meant to report on their work and field criticisms. According to media reports, Beijing has been convening these monthly meetings since August this year. At each meeting, three districts are singled out for assessments by the city leadership.

At the recent meeting, Beijing’s top leader, Party secretary Cai Qi (蔡奇), offered assessments of Beijing’s Fangshan, Huairou and Yanqing districts.  At one point, Cai reportedly remarked: “Each and every problem exposed by the media must be responded to immediately.”

A commentary in the Beijing Youth Daily newspaper responded positively to the news, saying that the inclusion of media supervision in the monthly assessments of top district leaders was a sign that Party and government leaders in the city views supervision from the media and the public as a more and more important aid to their work. Cai Qi also reportedly said at the meeting: “The supervision of the media and the public should be treated like another mirror [of our work].”

Key Sources:
Beijing Daily (北京日报): 市委召开第四次区委书记月度工作点评会 蔡奇主持并点评 陈吉宁李伟吉林参加
Beijing Youth Daily (北京青年报): 将媒体监督纳入“月考”值得点赞

[5] Hong Kong News-Expo opens its door, the first museum to the news industry in Asia

On December 5, a museum dedicated to the history of Hong Kong’s media industry opened its door in the territory’s Central District. According to Hong Kong media reports, the museum is the first in Asia dedicated to the topic of news and journalism.

Located in a historic building on Bridges Street, the Hong Kong News-Expo showcases more than 1,000 items about the history of Hong Kong’s news industry. The project was conceived a decade ago as part of a push to reuse and revitalise historic Hong Kong buildings.

The museum’s director, Lee Cho Jat (李祖泽), described the purpose of the museum as being “respectful of history, objective and impartial (客观公正), not offering opinion (不带观点).”  “Everyone must take fact as the basis of support, having a professional attitude, and employing news sources from different angles, but not offering fixed positions or views, so that observers can decide for themselves.”

Key Sources:
China National Radio Online (央广网): 香港新闻博览馆12月底对公众免费开放
HKSAR Government (香港政府新闻网):新聞博覽館開幕