Chinese media outlets were reportedly told not to criticize President Donald Trump, at least for one day.
While Trump and China have been trading insults in recent weeks over a number of issues ranging from trade to Taiwan to the disputed South China Sea, Chinese officials instructed domestic media outlets to hold their criticisms on Inauguration Day.
“Any news about Trump must be handled carefully,” Chinese officials told media, according to China Digital Times. “Unauthorized criticisms of Trump’s words or actions will not be tolerated.”
Chinese media sites are not actually allowed to provide independent coverage of the inauguration.
“It is forbidden for websites to carry out live streaming or picture reports of the inauguration,” censorship instructions obtained by the Financial Times read. The inauguration was not to be given significant attention or prominent placement on new sites. Chinese media outlets were, for the most part, only allowed to use reports provided by central agencies, like the Xinhua News Agency.
Chinese coverage of the inauguration has been limited.
Despite recent clashes, none of the articles were critical.
“They are tightening controls over the media and public opinion to smooth over the recent confrontations, ridicule and uncertainties with an excess of official diplomacy, to try to repair the relationship,” Chinese rights activist Huang Xiaomin told Radio Free Asia.
Trump has repeatedly threatened China’s core interests and prodded its sensitive issues.
He has said that he will heavily tax Chinese exports and label China a currency manipulator. He has also indicated that he may upend the one China policy, shifting U.S. relations with Taiwan.
Trump has brought anti-China hawks into his cabinet, and these individuals have expressed a desire to pressure China on trade and the South China Sea.
He has also criticized China’s unwillingness to rein in North Korea.
With each new provocation, Chinese media outlets, especially the nationalist Global Times, have been quick to fire back at the incoming administration.
The China Daily recently wrote that if Trump opens the “Pandora’s box of lethal potential” that is the Taiwan issue, “a period of fierce, damaging interactions will be unavoidable, as Beijing will have no choice but to take off the gloves.”
Such rhetoric was not seen during the inauguration.
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