Nelson Mandela

Chinese media told not to mention democracy in Mandela coverage

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 December, 2013, 3:20am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 December, 2013, 3:20am

China's propaganda authorities ordered the media not to highlight Nelson Mandela's comments on human rights and democracy ahead of their coverage of his funeral.

"All media and websites must be prudent in selecting the materials and [must] report appropriately," read the order from the ministry, which was confirmed by two local media sources.

The propaganda department routinely issues orders to newspapers, magazines and websites. It requires the news media to step back on politically sensitive topics and highlight the content that authorities favour.

Dozens of foreign leaders paid tribute to one of the world's great peacemakers at a special memorial service yesterday at Soccer City Stadium in Soweto. Vice-President Li Yuanchao attended as the representative of President Xi Jinping .

The propaganda ministry ordered media to toe the line.

"All posts and comments on weibo and blogs that take advantage of the funeral of Mandela to attack our political systems and state leaders must be deleted immediately," the papers stated.

The orders also warned local media not to report on the relationship between Mandela and the Dalai Lama, and not to cover Taiwan-related issues during the funeral.

Taiwan was formerly a diplomatic ally of South Africa.

Issues involving Tibet and Taiwan have long been deemed sensitive topics by Beijing.

The Dalai Lama, who has twice been unable to obtain a visa to South Africa, was a notable absentee at the funeral. "Logistically, it's impossible at this time," a spokesman said earlier.

Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs was hoping to send a delegation to the funeral, according to The China Post, citing a ministry source.

The propaganda department also ordered local media not to broach Mandela's married life. He had three wives, and one of them has been the subject of adultery claims.

"We were told not to print gossip. But content on the positive China-South Africa relationship is welcome," an editor with a local media outlet said.