The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has a longstanding custom of compiling “internal references,” known as “nei can“ in Chinese, for top officials. These publications vary by degree of confidentiality and are available to different levels of leaders, from the Party’s upper echelons down to county-level governments. They are only allowed to be seen by Party officials.
This tradition can be traced back to 1948, when the CCP was about to come to power in mainland China. They serve as a secret source of news to keep officials informed of the latest major events at home and abroad—which would not be available to ordinary citizens due to Beijing’s strict censorship rules.
State-run media Xinhua is the sole provider of “internal reference” documents, which contain a section on how the world views the Chinese regime. The Epoch Times recently acquired some of these documents, which show that an overwhelming portion of the reports referenced information that portrayed Beijing in a positive light, while negative news were deliberately overlooked.
On Global Sanctions
One section of the documents listed the latest global sanctions, categorized by different targeted countries, firms, and individuals. In the 12th issue (for the week of May 6-13, 2020), the “nei can” mentioned that Europe and the UK had imposed sanctions against six human rights abusers in Nicaragua. However, it did not include information about U.S. President Donald Trump extending an executive order issued the year prior that barred U.S. companies from working with or buying telecom equipment from companies deemed a threat to national security. The order was widely considered to be targeting Chinese telecom giant Huawei—which had been banned from the United States’ 5G rollout on security grounds.
Negative Public Opinion over CCP Virus Filtered Out
Another “nei can” report summarized overseas public opinion on the CCP virus pandemic, as reflected in foreign media. In the report, the severity of the pandemic in foreign countries was highlighted. But there was no mention of growing criticism from the international community about the Chinese regime’s coverup of the pandemic.
The report made no mention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) confirming that it was investigating China-linked “cyber actors” and monitoring their attempts to “identify and illicitly obtain valuable intellectual property (IP) and public health data related to vaccines, treatments, and testing from networks and personnel affiliated with COVID-19-related research.”
Another notable omission was a BBC interview with Chris Patten, the last British governor in Hong Kong, titled “Is China using coronavirus to ‘bully’ the world?” Patten bashed the Chinese regime for exploiting the pandemic to flex its muscle and bully Taiwan and Hong Kong. His remarks drew widespread attention in international media.
As expected, the internal documents remarked positively on authorities’ domestic handling of the pandemic, mentioning school reopenings and measures to stimulate the domestic consumer market.
The reports also made mention of economic reviews, which “spoke favorably of” China’s economy, the internal documents stated. They cited statements in foreign media explaining that India could not replace the role of China as “the world’s factory”; post-COVID-19 China was likely to lead the world into reopening; and China remained a popular destination for U.S. corporate investment.
The reports did mention some negative news. A Financial Times report on May 18 stated that nearly 500 listed companies in China suffered investment losses in the 1st quarter of 2020. Analysts cited in Financial Times said the companies spent too much effort on stock speculation while ignoring their core business. The “nei can” documents also mentioned a paper that stated China’s capital markets were likely to face the worst outflow in four years; and a report compiled by Goldman Sachs foreign exchange strategists that said tensions with the United States likely spurred the process of capital outflow.
Online Public Opinion about ‘Two Sessions’
The “Two Sessions,” annual meetings of the CCP’s rubber-stamp legislature and its advisory body to enact policies and agendas, was held this year in May. During this period, “nei can” documents showed that Beijing kept track of domestic public opinion by analyzing online social media posts.
According to a trends chart, on May 25 at 6 p.m., the degree of attention on the Two Sessions reached 40,000 points. Another analysis showed that attention on the subject reached 72 percent on social media platform Weibo and 20 percent on messaging app WeChat.
Political commentator Li Linyi noted that these so-called “internal references” are in fact not complete and censor out negative news in order to please Party leaders. To save the CCP’s face and comfort its officials, negative reports are discouraged within a one-party state, he said.