Chinese Political Rumors, Party Redoubles Squelch Efforts

Controlling information is tightly controlled through intimidation and explicit controls saps government credibility and makes rumors spread more readily in turn creating ever more work for busy censors. For understanding PRC media control, read He Qinglian’s book — a free download Download He Qinglian’s Book on Media Control in China .

Rumors circulate within China and within Chinese-speaking communities outside China. Some exile websites outside China, such as boxun.com and other discussion and information Chinese language websites are rich sources of rumor, unchecked news and opinion, gossip and wild speculation. To be fair, one can learn a lot about China by reading these websites (I like science fiction too, it expands the mind) but they must be approached cautiously, information bits there to be garnered, to be questioned and verified. No doubt some valuable information there but the lack of checking (sometimes I think exile writers still work based on the standards they learned at the official Xinhua Press Agency) and quick willingness to believe in communist deviltry in every single instance — often not considering the alternative explanation of incompetence or unreliable information — means that these sources need to be treated with caution. The Chinese Communist Party has the worry about unhealthful information, especially information in Chinese, be reimported into China through friends, travelers or the still somewhat VPN-permeable Bamboo Curtain or Great Red Firewall. So Party infiltration of media abroad and its United Front Work often concentrates on Chinese speaking communities in order to achieve its goal of ideological defense of the ancestral Chinese lands.

Not only China but many other countries also face the problem of disinformation, propaganda and fake news. See:

There are often Xi Jinping Rumors in news and social media.

Boxun.com had a commentary about rumors in China. An illustration of the wheat one can find among the chaff of confusing bit and pieces of information.

  Why is Xi Jinping’s Sword Pointed at Zhongnanhai Leadership Compound Amidst the Storm of Political Rumors?

政治谣言风暴眼中的习近平为何剑锋指向中南海?

April 2019

by Zhang Jie 張傑, Doctor of Law

    China today has entered a society where falsehoods and truths are so mixed that it is difficult to distinguish between fact and rumor. It can be said that when falsehoods are true, they are also false. For example, Supreme Court Judge Wang Linqing and Cui Yongyuan exposed the missing files of the 100 billion RMB [circa USD 16 billion] mining rights case in northern Shaanxi Province, with photos of the files and video testimony from Wang Linqing. The Supreme Court first denied and then admitted it. The final conclusion of the joint investigation team was that Wang Linqing himself stole the dossier in his custody and made up a rumor of his own. But the people are not stupid, instead they think the investigation team was kicked in the head by a donkey!  The official thinks something is just a rumor, the people think it is true, how can we tell what is true? As Na Ying sings: See the flowers through the fog, look at the reflection of the moon in the water, who can tell what is what in this unpredictable world? The clouds fly by, flowers bloom, who can keep up with the great flood of variety of the season?

As Na Ying sings: See the flowers through the fog, look at the reflection of the moon in the water, who can tell what is what in this unpredictable world? The clouds fly by, flowers bloom, who can keep up with the great flood of variety of the season?

    The Wang Linqing Affair only let the people lose confidence in the judicial justice of the Supreme Court, but political rumors are much more harmful, strongly shaking the hearts of the people, and serious subversion of power. During the Qin Dynasty over 2000 years ago, two peasants, Chen Sheng and Wu Guang, created political rumors. They concealed a book and silk in the belly of a fish, “Chen Sheng Wang”, and pretended to be foxes at night, “Great Chu Xing”, rang the death knell of the Qin Empire in one fell swoop. The children’s rhyme “The sky has turned gray, the  yellow storm skies appear, a new calendar cycle has begun, everyone is very lucky” too rhymes with another that stirred the world against the great Han dynasty falls. ” among other rumors were spread. In China, the rumor of “dreadlocks and souls” during the Guangxu period of the Qing Dynasty almost caused widespread panic in the society.

Xi Jinping has worried a lot about political rumors in recent years. If he doesn’t make the headlines for one day, there are rumors of a coup, and if he doesn’t appear on camera for two days, there are rumors of gunfire in Zhongnanhai. During his visit to three European countries, his leg was a little weak and so rumors arose that  Xi Jinping will die soon. The Fourth Party Plenum was not held, there are rumors that the old man interfered with politics and ordered him to review. Xi Jinping feels that he has fires to put out every single day. The rumors are ostensibly from overseas hostile forces, but they actually stem from within Zhongnanhai. The reason is that these rumors are “accurate, fast and hard”, and they rub salt into his wounds wherever they are. On the surface, the Zhongnanhai leadership compound is calm and quiet, but behind the scenes, there is the play of swords and shadows.

    On March 28, the Chinese Communist Party issued the “Opinions on Strengthening and Improving the Construction of the Party in the Central and State Organs”, which contains a very striking provision: “It is forbidden to create or spread political rumors and statements that scandalize the image of the Party and the state.” The target is not the general, but the power center, Zhongnanhai, the State Council and state organs. Xi Jinping has unsheathed his knife out of desperation, as these rumors are highly damaging, mostly involving high-level power struggles. Some are even the Politburo Standing Committee and Xi Jinping himself. But with Xi Jinping pointing the finger at Zhongnanhai, a more serious problem has surfaced: Xi Jinping is suspicious of his own Praetorian Guard, so who are his real allies? Below, I will share with my friends about political rumors.

    First, Curiosity Gives Rise to Political Rumors and Social Media Gives Them Wings

    The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle said that man is a political animal by nature. Some scholars believe that man’s ambiguity about political events themselves and his desire for political information are the soil of political rumors. When it is impossible to get or accurately get political information, informal channels and hearsay naturally become an effective supplement to quench people’s thirst, and become “good medicine” to relieve people’s anxiety and fear at certain times. An important feature of political rumors is interaction, that is, the generation, processing, dissemination and acceptance of rumors are not a simple linear direction, but a process of constant repetition, role overlap and circular interaction. In this process, rumors are spread and at the same time processed, explained, commented, rationalized and made true, and eventually form a political rumor storm. The generation of political rumors is related to the psychological state of uncertainty and anxiety. In the face of Xi Jinping’s political “backflips”, people are anxious and panic-stricken, eager to capture information and avoid harm. With the help of the Internet, social media has given wings to the spread of rumors. According to the 38th Statistical Report on the Development Status of China’s Internet Network published by the China Internet Network Information Center, as of June 2016, the number of China’s Internet users reached 710 million, with an Internet penetration rate of 51.7%. The size of China’s microblog users is 242 million, and the usage rates of WeChat’s circle of friends and Qzone are 78.7% and 67.4% respectively. A political rumor can spread geometrically in a short period of time with the help of Weibo and WeChat circle of friends, and its influence is magnified exponentially through retweets, likes and comments.

    Second, the Chinese Communist Party’s Backroom Politics Gives Political Rumors Great Vitality

    In early 2012, there were already rumors on the Internet that Bo Xilai had slapped Wang Lijun and that Wang Lijun had entered the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu. Two days after the incident, the then Chongqing Municipal Government Information Office released a news release stating that Wang Lijun was on “leave of absence”. The People’s Daily published an editorial reminding people “not to be disturbed by noise and rumors, not to be confused by rumors. But it turns out that this political rumor is the truth. Not all political rumors in China are rumors, there are many “rumors that are far ahead of the prophecy”. In the United States, there are also political rumors, but the U.S. State Department has a spokesperson to explain public questions, an independent press and full freedom of speech, and an impartial judiciary. In China, however, rumors not only appear frequently but are difficult to dispel because people do not trust official disinformation, and even disinformation itself can become a channel for rumors to spread.

    Third, the Chinese Communist Party Keeps Creating Political Rumors

    During the Great Leap Forward in the 1950s, there were numerous “satellites” in grain production and other areas. This was the first “mu yield great achievement” released in the Great Leap Forward Movement. Only one month later, People’s Daily reported on July 12: “The two-mu [Note: a mu is one-sixth of an acre] wheat yield test field of the fourth team of Heping Agricultural Society in Chengguan Town, Xiping County, Henan Province, with a total yield of 14,640 jins and an average yield of 7,320 jins [Note: roughly pounds] per mu.” . At this time, the “great achievement” has not yet broken through the “mu yield of 10,000 jin”. August 13, “People’s Daily” published a special article: “Ma Cheng Jianguo a community appear the world’s first field, early rice mu yield of 36,900 pounds. ” On September 12, Guangxi Daily reported that the mu yield of the field was “130,434 pounds and 10 taels and 4 coins”. The fact proves that these news reports were are all just rumors. The “September 13” incident in 1973 proved that Lin Biao was a student and close comrade of Mao Zedong, which was a political rumor.

Some Internet users said that around 2015, there were rumors of opening up the two child policy, and the National Family Planning Commission came out to dispel the rumors, saying there was no such thing. Later, the rumor resurfaced, or a reporter asked about the rumor, and the official denied it again. Later, the rumor is still circulating, and the official again and again on different occasions to deny. However, when everyone thought the rumors were false and stopped believing them, and the rumors naturally disappeared, in 2016, the country suddenly introduced the  two child policy, and the whole country got excited about it for a while. Some people were happy since they could have more children. Some people were sad since they had just paid the family planning ] fine for their second child. Perhaps some of the rumors are deliberately created by officials as trial balloons to see how the people will react, to observe the wind direction, to weigh the advisability or tuning in one direction or another.

    To sum up, the totalitarian system of the Chinese Communist Party is not only a meat grinder, but also a political rumor-making machine. Because the Red regime cannot be maintained without rumors, and the struggle for power cannot be maintained without rumors. Rumor after rumor, there are so many rumors. The only way to reduce political rumors is to abandon the totalitarian system and establish a constitutional democratic system of separation of powers and checks and balances. Today, when political rumors continue to flow out of Zhongnanhai and envelop all of China. This signals that the social governance mechanism of the Communist Party of China has failed, that people are thinking of change, and that society is on the eve of a big change, in the midst of expectation and fear, anxiety and agitation. A new era of constitutional democracy is dawning. Xi Jinping, who is in the eye of a storm of political rumors, is miserable and sad. (blog boxun.com)


Party comrades are on the alert too. I just came across this article. Press controls make rumor fighting harder not easier. That seems to be one of the messages in the rumor-fighting article — the second article below — if one reads between the characters.


Strengthen Dissemination of public information, Provide Institutional Safeguards for Squelching Rumors

April 4, 2022 http://www.zgfzhb.cn/Home/content/index/id/5750.html

 Source:China.com Author:Dong Shaopeng, Deputy Chief Editor of Securities Daily, Senior Researcher at Renmin University Chongyang Institute of Finance

Rumors are special companions of social operation, reflecting the psychological demands of different people and the information game among different value holders. The reasons for the creation and spread of rumors are complex, and the reason for their long existence and constant renovation is that some are related to interests, some are just for gaining eyeballs, and some are designed  for political struggles. No matter what kind of rumors they are, they should not be taken lightly. If they are allowed to develop, they will most likely lead to instability, social unrest and national unrest.

Rumors can be divided into three main categories according to their production process, propagation dynamics and harm level: the first category is the “brain nutritional supplement”“补脑式” rumor. Rumormongers take advantage of people’s thirst for truthful information and integrate incomplete fragments of information to produce and spread false information. Some pieces of information in the rumor are true, but due to incomplete and unbalanced information, they can lead to overall deviations or even misrepresentations, and thus become rumors.

The second type of rumor is the “fabrication for personal advantage” rumor. These rumormongers are mainly interested in gaining attention. Based on certain clues, they deliberately fabricate inaccurate information, create rumors and spread them, and use them as consumer entertainment. The cognitive level and production capacity of these people vary, so the rumor products are also varied and uneven. For some low-end rumors, it is sufficient to warn the rumor fabricator to eliminate them. For harmful rumors, more effort is needed to clarify and severely punish the fabricator according to the law.

The third type of rumor is the “weaponized” rumor. This type of rumor is the most damaging, and its perpetrators target government departments, important public issues, and specific organizations to make precise attacks for maximum benefit. These rumors are sometimes used as tools in political battles between countries. For example, the U.S. is constantly smearing China’s anti-epidemic operations and the governance of China’s Xinjiang and Hong Kong regions, etc. Such rumors and their makers should be fought proactively, decisively and aggressively. In addition, there are also situations where the three types of rumor production are intertwined and extra attention should be paid.

Rumors pose different degrees of harm to normal information dissemination and public order, and must be taken seriously and strengthened. Rumors stop at the wise, and even more so at the common governance. If formal public information platforms fail to respond by releasing timely, comprehensive and accurate information, it will open the space for rumors to spread.

As China becomes more and more open, various changes in the international situation and various games of international power will be transmitted; China’s economic and social development will also affect the pattern of world interests. In this situation, the ability to disseminate information becomes a veritable competitiveness. Therefore, China must strengthen public information dissemination as a livelihood project, a national governance project, and an international competitive cooperation project, which will provide an institutional guarantee for breaking all kinds of rumors.

Based on this, the security problems of information dissemination caused by poor management, lack of risk awareness and deliberate attacks should be strengthened and treated differently, and subjects who fail to act or act in a disorderly manner should be punished according to the law, and subjects who deliberately disrupt the public communication order should be severely punished according to the law. At the same time, the social diversion mechanism should be improved. Government departments, news media, social organizations, experts and scholars should promptly release and explain the relevant information, which is an extremely necessary initiative to eradicate the soil for the spread of rumors, and should also encourage capable people from all sides to participate in the cause of public information dissemination and play their active role in order to quickly stop rumors. 

(Responsible Editor: Huazhang Leshui Zhang Yanling)


政治谣言风暴眼中的习近平为何剑锋指向中南海?
(博讯北京时间2019年4月03日首发 – 支持此文作者/记者)    https://www.youtube.com/embed/l4OJBrn5OdQ

    政治谣言风暴眼中的习近平为何剑锋指向中南海?

    当今中国已经进入一个虚假和真实混杂的社会,甚至难以辨明事实和谣言。真可谓假作真时真亦假。比如最高法院法官王林清和崔永元曝光陕北千亿矿权案卷宗丢失,有卷宗照片和王林清视频作证。最高法院先是否认,后又承认。联合调查组最终的调查结论是王林清自己偷了自己保管的卷宗,自编自导了一个谣言。但老百姓不傻,相反认为调查组脑袋被驴踢了。官方认为是谣言,老百姓认为是事实,这不杠上了?正如那英歌曲所唱的:雾里看花,水中望月,谁能分辩这变幻莫测的世界?涛走云飞,花开花谢,谁能把握这摇曳多姿的季节?

    王林清事无非让老百姓对最高法院的司法公正丧失了信心,但政治谣言危害就大了,轻则动摇民心,重则颠覆政权。在2000多年前的秦朝,陈胜、吴广两个农民就制造过政治谣言。他们在鱼肚里暗藏书帛“陈胜王”,夜扮狐狸鸣叫“大楚兴”,一举敲响大秦帝国的丧钟。而“苍天已死,黄天当立,岁在甲子,天下大吉”的童谣,则如出一辙地搅动天下反,让大汉王朝分崩离析。1789年前后的法国大革命时期,发动了大革命的贵族们却被失控的平民杀戮,就是因为“贵族阴谋”以及其他谣言的传播。而中国清朝光绪年间的“剪辫摄魂”谣言几乎造成了整个社会的恐慌。习近平近年来,为政治谣言没少操心。他只要一天不上新闻头条,马上就有谣言说出现了政变,二天不出镜,就有谣言称中南海响起来枪声。在他访问欧洲三国腿有点不得力,就有谣言说他命不久矣。这四中全会没开,就有谣言说老人干政,责令他检讨。习近平感到自己每天都在火上烤。这谣言表面上出自海外敌对势力,实质来自中南海内部。因为这些谣言“准、快、狠”,他那里有伤口,就往哪里撒盐。中南海表面风平浪静,背后可是刀光剑影。

    3月28日,中共颁发了《关于加强和改进中央和国家机关党的建设的意见》,里面就有一条非常惹人注目的规定:“不准制造、传播政治谣言及丑化党和国家形象的言论”。矛头所指并非一般,而是权力中枢,中南海、国务院和国家机关。习近平之所以刀刃向内也是出于无奈,因为这些谣言杀伤力强,大多涉及高层权斗,甚至政治局常委和习近平本人。但习近平将矛头指向中南海,一个更严重的问题浮出水面,那就是习近平对自己的禁卫军都怀疑,那谁是他的真正盟友呢?下面,我就政治谣言与朋友们一起交流一下。

    第一,政治谣言源于人性的好奇,自媒体为它的传播插上了翅膀

    古希腊哲人亚理斯多德说:人是天生的政治动物。有学者认为,人对政治事件本身的模糊和对政治信息的渴望是政治谣言的土壤。当无法获知或准确获知政治信息时,非正式渠道、道听途说自然成为“饮鸩止渴”性有效的补充,成为在特定时期缓解人们的焦虑、恐惧的“良药”。政治谣言的重要特点是互动,即谣言的产生、加工、传播和接受不是一个简单的直线方向,而是一个不断重复,角色重合、循环交互的过程。在这个过程中,谣言被扩散传播同时又在被加工整理,被解释、评论、被不停地合理化、真实化,并最终形成政治谣言风暴。政治谣言的产生与不确定、焦虑不安的心理状态有关。面对习近平的政治“后空翻”,民众心理焦虑和恐慌,人们急于捕捉信息,趋利避害。自媒体借助互联网,为谣言的传播插上了翅膀。根据中国互联网络信息中心公布的第38次《中国互联网络发展状况统计报告》显示,截至2016年6月,我国网民规模达7.10亿,互联网普及率为51.7%。我国微博用户规模为2.42亿,微信朋友圈、QQ空间使用率分别为78.7%、67.4%。一则政治谣言借助微博的“围观”、微信朋友圈的转发,短时间内获得几何级的传播扩散,在转发、点赞和评论中,其影响力被成倍放大,真可谓火借风势,风借火威。

    第二,中共密室政治使政治谣言具有了旺盛的生命力

    中共的密室政治和小圈子政治,使民众对于中南海红墙内发生的事情所知甚少,层出不穷的政治谣言可以满足人们的好奇心。2012年初,网络上就已传出薄熙来打了王立军一耳光,王立军进入成都美国领事馆的“政治谣言”。事件发生两天后,当时的重庆市政府新闻办发布消息称,王立军正在进行“休假式治疗”。《人民日报》发表社论提醒民众“不为杂音噪音所扰 不为传闻谣言所惑”。但事实证明,这个政治谣言就是事实。在中国不是所有的政治谣言都是谣言,有很多“谣言是遥遥领先的预言”。在美国,也有政治谣言,但美国国务院有新闻发言人解释公众疑问,有独立的新闻媒体和充分的言论自由以及公正的司法。但在中国,谣言不但出现的频率高,且难以辟谣,因为人们不信任官方的辟谣,甚至辟谣本身会成为谣言传播的渠道。

    第三,中共不断制造政治谣言

    在五十年代大跃进时期,粮食生产及其它方面“放卫星”行为层出不穷。1958年6月8日,党媒《人民日报》登载了“河南省遂平县卫星农业社5亩小麦平均亩产达到2105斤”的浮夸报道,是大跃进运动中放出第一颗“亩产卫星”。仅一个月后,《人民日报》7月12日报道:“河南省西平县城关镇和平农业社第四队二亩小麦丰产试验田,总产14640斤,平均亩产7320斤。”。此时,“放卫星”尚未突破“亩产万斤”。8月13日,《人民日报》刊登专文:“麻城建国一社出现天下第一田,早稻亩产三万六千九百多斤。”9月12日,《广西日报》报道田地亩产“十三万四百三十四斤十两四钱”。事实证明,这些消息都是谣言。一九七三年“九一三”事件证明林彪是毛泽东的学生和亲密战友是个政治谣言。有网友说,2015年前后,社会上忽然有了开放二胎的传言,国家计生委出面辟谣,说没这回事。后来,传言再起,或者有记者问到这个传言,官方再次否定。后来,传言还在流传,官方又一次次地在不同场合否定。然而,在大家都以为传言是假话,不再相信传言,传言自然消失的时候,2016年,国家突然出台了开放二胎的政策,整个国家一时炸锅了。有人喜,可以生了。有人悲,刚交了二胎的罚款。也许,有些谣言就是官方故意制造出来,试探民心,在考量社会的接受程度,在观察风向,在权衡左右。

    综上所述,中共极权制度不仅是一部绞肉机,而且是一部政治谣言制造机器。因为红色政权的维系离不开谣言,权力的斗争离不开谣言。谣言复谣言,谣言何其多。要减少政治谣言,唯一的道路是放弃极权主义制度,建立分权制衡的宪政民主制度。当今,当政治谣言不断从中南海流出来,笼罩整个中国时,其实是中共社会治理机制失灵,人心思变,社会处于大变局的前夜,处在期待与恐惧、焦虑与躁动之中。一个宪政民主的新时代正在到来。处在政治谣言风暴眼中的习近平凄凄惨惨戚戚,怎一个愁字了得。 [博讯首发,转载请注明出处]- 支持此文作者/记者(博讯 boxun.com)(本文只代表作者或者发稿团体的观点、立场)


强化公共信息传播,为破除谣言提供制度保障

时间:2022-04-28    来源:中国网    作者:董少鹏

董少鹏 证券日报副总编辑,人大重阳金融研究院高级研究员

谣言是社会运行的特殊伴生物,反映了不同人群的心理诉求和不同价值观持有者间的信息博弈。谣言的产生和传播,原因复杂,它之所以长期存在、不断翻新,有的与利益相关,有的是为博取眼球,有的是为政治斗争。无论哪种谣言,均不可等闲视之,如果任其发展,极有可能导致人心不稳、社会不安、国家动荡。

根据谣言的生产流程、传播动力和危害级别,可把谣言分为三大类:第一类是“补脑式”谣言。这类谣言制造者利用人们对信息真相的渴求,将不完整的碎片信息整合,进行虚假信息生产、传播。这类谣言中的要素真假混杂,有的信息片段是真实的,但由于信息不完整、不对称,会导致整体性偏差甚至失实,进而成为谣言。

第二类是“取宠式”谣言。这类谣言制造者,主要是为博取眼球。他们根据某些线索,刻意编造不实信息,制造谣言并传播,把谣言当作娱乐消费品。这类人的认知水平、生产能力各异,所以相关谣言产品也形形色色、参差不齐。对有些低端谣言,警告编造者、消除影响即可,而对那些危害大的谣言,就需要花较大力气来澄清,依法严惩编造者。

第三类是“武器式”谣言。这类谣言危害最大,编造者针对政府部门、重要公共事项、特定组织等进行精准攻击,谋取最大利益。这类谣言有时是国与国之间进行政治斗争的工具。比如美国不断抹黑中国抗疫行动,抹黑中国新疆和香港地区的治理等等。对于这类谣言及其制造者,要主动、果断、积极地开展斗争。此外,也会出现三类谣言生产相互交织的情况,应当格外注意。

谣言对正常的信息传播、公共秩序构成不同程度的危害,必须认真对待,加强治理。谣言止于智者,更止于共治。如果正规的公共信息平台不能及时、全面、准确地发布信息进行回应,就会给谣言打开传播的空间。

随着中国开放程度越来越高,国际形势的各种变化、国际力量的各种博弈都会传导过来;中国的经济和社会发展也会影响世界利益格局。在这种形势下,信息传播能力就成为一种名副其实的竞争力。因此,中国必须强化公共信息传播,将其作为民生工程、国家治理工程、国际竞争合作工程,这将为破除各式谣言提供制度性保障。

基于此,对因管理不善、风险意识不足和蓄意攻击导致的信息传播安全问题,应加强研究,区别对待,依法惩罚不作为、乱作为的主体,依法严惩蓄意破坏公共传播秩序的主体。同时,要完善社会疏导机制。政府部门、新闻媒体、社会组织、专家学者应及时就相关信息进行发布和阐释,这是铲除谣言传播土壤极为必要的举措,还应鼓励各方有能力的人士参与到公共信息传播事业中来,发挥他们的积极作用,以便快速止谣。(责任编辑:华章 乐水 张艳玲)

About 高大伟 David Cowhig

After retirement translated, with wife Jessie, Liao Yiwu's 2019 "Bullets and Opium", and have been studying things 格物致知. Worked 25 years as a US State Department Foreign Service Officer including ten years at US Embassy Beijing and US Consulate General Chengdu and four years as a China Analyst in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Before State I translated Japanese and Chinese scientific and technical books and articles into English freelance for six years. Before that I taught English at Tunghai University in Taiwan for three years. And before that I worked two summers on Norwegian farms, milking cows and feeding chickens.
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