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Leaked Document Shows China Eyeing Three Key Dates for Protest Crackdown

Newsweek
Newsweek
 2022-12-02

A leaked document allegedly written by the Chinese government advised officials to pay attention to three key dates in relation to continued citizen protests resulting from strict COVID lockdown policies.

China Digital Times, a bilingual U.S.-based organization that posts censored or suppressed Chinese information, on Tuesday published the new correspondence reportedly composed by government officials with the Cyberspace Administration of China and issued to the media.

The information came from an unidentified Twitter user who may or may not be a hacker who has followed and reported about the protests.

One of the dates outlined in the report on Tuesday was November 30, or nearly a week after 10 people were killed and nine others were injured in a high-rise apartment fire in Urumqi .

That incident sparked a wave of protests due to questions of whether strict zero-COVID policies imposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping and his government resulted in the harmed individuals.

The other two dates mentioned by the administration were December 9 and December 10, which are International Anti-Corruption Day and International Human Rights Day, respectively.

"Pay careful attention to these and other sensitive dates, maintain strict controls, and strengthen preliminary content audits," the leaked document read. "Promptly identify and report content aimed at stirring up public sentiment or any such similarly 'targeted' content."

It also encouraged a "focus on public opinion" in Beijing in response to the pandemic.

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One day before this document leaked, Niu Yibing, deputy director of the Office of the Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission, reportedly held a videoconference calling it "necessary" to initiate a "Level I Internet Emergency Response."

"Given the recent high-profile events in various provinces, information about offline disturbances and backflows of overseas information must be rapidly identified, dealt with, and reported," the document stated.

Officials also complained of "triggered expressions of various grievances" in the wake of the apartment casualties, and made note of "pernicious political slogans" appearing in Shanghai.

"Conspicuous political gatherings" across Chinese colleges and universities were also a concern, as are increases in "smears by foreign media."

One leaked, translated message reportedly resonating from a local government text message chain involving a 129-member group called "District Propaganda Department Working Group" warned against a visceral response.

"The city requests that all counties and districts refrain from unnecessary propaganda about the trials and tribulations of frontline pandemic prevention and control work," read the message leaked as a screenshot. "Exercise extreme caution when publicizing 'model deeds' on the frontline, particularly if this includes images or video.

"At present, there are so many vicious currents online that the response is all too often a chorus of criticism, which generates public controversy."

Chinese message boards have also reportedly been targeted to sow discord among protesters and stoke paranoia among those who disagree with the country's COVID-related policies.

This comes as some protesters have reportedly been interrogated or arrested in their own homes .

Chinese officials have attempted to attack the U.S. for its own domestic problems, with one spokesperson for the Chinese government tweeting about the deaths resulting from guns, COVID and fentanyl .

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