An Odd Directive From The Chinese Ministry Of Truth: "Delete All Rumors Of Japan Elites Emigrating To Hainan Island"

While we were scouring the latest directives disclosed by the Chinese Ministry of Truth, conveniently leaked on a weekly basis by the China Digital Times, we encountered this oddity:

State Council Information Office: Plans for Japanese to Immigrate to Hainan Island, China

April 2, 2011

From the Ninth Bureau of the State Council Information Office: All websites are asked to monitor interactive spaces and immediately delete rumors similar to the following: “Breaking news: Japanese elites discussing plan to emigrate to Hainan Island, China.”

Questions arise: why is China so focused on removing any trace of this rumor? Is it because it is false (probably not the smartest thing, as anyone disseminating it would merely discredit themselves)? Or, perhaps, because it is true?

Pushing the scales to the opinion that it could well be the latter is Bloomberg's report that following massive economic leaks well in advance of Chinese data release (most recently presented on Zero Hedge), "those responsible will be punished."

To wit:

China’s statistics bureau said it “condemns” leaks of economic data and those responsible will be punished, after the office released economic indicators that matched rumors circulating in the market and online yesterday.

“We believe any illegal behavior will be punished by law,” Sheng Laiyun, a spokesman for the department, told a briefing in Beijing today. “Those spreading state secrets on the Internet or other public information networks should be held accountable.”

China’s first-quarter growth figure and other monthly economic data including the inflation rate were leaked yesterday ahead of the official release. Phoenix Satellite Television Holdings Ltd. reported 10 economic indicators on its website yesterday morning, citing an unidentified source. Figures released later yesterday by China’s central bank and today by the National Bureau of Statistics matched 9 of the numbers. Hong Kong-based Phoenix Television, declined to comment.

“Key data are widely circulated in the Chinese bureaucracy prior to their release,” said Brian Jackson, an emerging markets strategist at Royal Bank of Canada in Hong Kong. “The recent accuracy of market rumors must raise concerns about the integrity of the process.”

Of course, we can only wish China the best of luck in this endeavor:

“It’s normal in China, there are always channels for this sort of information,” Jiang said in a phone interview today, “The short side and the futures market in Hong Kong are always a step ahead. This is a result of China’s power structure.”

It was the fifth time in six months that an accurate consumer price index number was circulated in the market and reported in the media before release. It’s become one of the most sought-after numbers because of China’s battle to curb inflation, which jumped to a 32-month high in March.

Early disclosure happens because too many government offices see data before they’re made public, He Keng, a former deputy head of the department and now a member of its consulting committee, said in an interview last month.

Which, naturally, explains the need to have a Ministry of Truth to impose harsh directives and censor any and all disclosure that are unpalatable to the government.

Incidentally, the other most recent directives are all somewhat amusing. They are presented below:

State Council Information Office: Reform of Monopolistic Industries

April 8, 2011

From the State Council Information Office: All websites are requested to repost on both their front pages and headline news sections the article, “Reform and Attack of Monopolistic Industries in the Twelfth Five-Year Plan.”

State Council Information Office: SCIO Unveils iPad Platform

April 8, 2011-04-11

From the State Council Information Office: All websites are requested to post in a prominent position the article: “China State Council News and Information Office Formally Unveils iPad App to Better Introduce the World to China.”

State Council Information Office: The “Rights Maintenance” Peasant Zhou Decai

April 8, 2011

From the State Council Information Office: All websites are requested to delete the posting “Proposal Offered to ‘Rights Protection’ (wei quan) Tobacco Workers Around the Country by China ‘Rights Protection’ Peasant Zhou Decai,” as well as all related information.

State Council Information Office: The School Motto “Esteem Morality”

April 7, 2011

From the State Council Information Office: All websites are requested to prominently post the article “The School Motto ‘Honor Morality’ Has Begun to Circulate Among Teachers and Students at Hebei Agricultural University (Hebei Nongda).”

State Council Information Office: The Song Meat Pancake

April 2, 2011

From the State Council Information Office: All websites, particularly those with video and audio channels, are to look for and delete the song Meat Pancake (Rou bing) by Gamahe Danzeng.


And for those curious, here is an interesting tangent on just what Hainan Island is from Xinhua:

HAIKOU, April 10 (Xinhua) -- Hainan, an island province in southern China, is planning to develop six uninhabited islands this year, according to local official sources.

"The islands are to be developed as tourist sites," said Zhao Zhongshe, head of the Department of Ocean and Fisheries of Hainan Province, stressing that no real estate projects will be developed on the islands.

An island census carried out in the 1980s showed that China had more than 6,500 uninhabited islands, or 93.8 percent of the total number of islands. The results of an ongoing island census will be released this year.

From 2003 to 2005, a frenzy of island development swept China's coastal areas, but was later called off by the central government over conservation concerns.

On March 1 last year China promulgated the "Law on Island Protection", which allows for the development of uninhabited islands with the approval of provincial governments or the State Council.

Under the law, new development projects on uninhabited islands will be subject to strict environmental impact assessments.

However, such development has stirred controversy among those concerned about the difficulty of protecting the islands.

According to Duan Deyu, vice director of the Ocean and Fisheries Bureau of the tourist city of Sanya in Hainan Province, divers destroyed and stole the coral, and tourists spoiled the vegetation of scenic spots.

"We had inspections, but it was hard to control since there are so many tourists," Duan said.

"The uninhabited islands are scattered around and protecting them could be even harder," he added.

An unnamed official in charge of the development of the Wuzhizhou Island, one of six islands set for development, warned of economic risks for investors.

"Enough money and a thorough plan are necessary to build service facilities," he said.