China issues new guidelines on banned terminology in news

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Xinhua's new rules greatly increase the restrictions on content related to territorial issues. Photo: iStock/Getty

China’s state Xinhua News Agency released a revised list of banned terminology for its editorial departments and domestic and international bureaus on Thursday, adding 57 prohibited terms on top of the original 45 directives released in November 2015.

Compared with the previous version, the new rules greatly increase the restrictions on content related to territorial issues, emphasizing Beijing’s sovereignty over Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau.

According to the new regulations, Taiwan is “officially a province of China”, but “taking the feelings of the Taiwan compatriots into account”, the terms “Taiwan region” and “Taiwan” by itself can be used in place of “Taiwan province”.

Taiwan cannot be included on lists of independent countries. If necessary, it should be labeled as a region. The term “Republic of China” is also strictly banned, as well as Taiwan’s national anthem, emblem and flag.

The president of Taiwan should be referred to as the “leader of the Taiwan authority”. The word “national” should be removed from references to schools and institutions in Taiwan. For example, “National Taiwan University” should be referred to as “Taiwan University”.

“The 1992 Consensus” can be mentioned, but “one China with respective interpretations” is not allowed. “Taiwan independence” should be put in quotation marks if mentioned, Xinhua said.

“The regulations highlight Beijing’s tightening control on press freedom,” Chiu Chui-cheng, spokesman for Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, said in response to the new rules on Thursday. He also called on Beijing to “fully reflect the status quo, and respect the existence of the Republic of China”.

As for Hong Kong and Macau, the new regulations ban mentioning the two special administrative regions in parallel with China. Another rule bans use of the term “separation of powers” to describe Hong Kong’s and Macau’s political systems.

The Umbrella Movement and similar civil demonstrations should also be referred to as “illegal”, according to the regulations.

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