The kind folks at Work Unit have published a list of guidelines used by the editors and writers at Xinhua, China’s official newspaper. Surprisingly, most of the advice is to avoid racial stereotyping of the sort seen in America’s early days. Except, in our case where it was mostly black v.s. white, writers in China have to be aware of a huge number of ethnic minorities and their sensitivities.
Unfortunately, there are a number of politically sensitive editorial demands:
- Don’t use “Islamic fundamentalism” or “Islamic fundamentalists.” Use “religious extremism” as a substitute.
- It is strictly forbidden to refer to Xinjiang as “East Turkistan.”
- The Diaoyutai Islands must not be called the Senkaku Islands.
- The Nansha Islands must not be called the Spratly Islands.
- Do not write “Tourists from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan visit China.” The proper use is “Tourists from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan visit the mainland.”
As you can see, most of these come from the desire to strengthen China’s claims on territory it contests with other nations, or territories which have their own seditious desires. Taiwan, HK, and Macau are given special attention; they must always be included as parts of China, not separate nations.
There are also a few completely strange guidelines, like “In all reports concerning persons who believe in Islam, pork must not be mentioned.” That’s about the same as saying, “In all reports concerning persons who like to wear socks, bare feet must not be mentioned.” Still, Xinhua gets a nod for their tact, even if it is overly sensitive.
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