As China President Xi Jinping (習近平) woos world leaders in Beijing, the Xinhua news agency has announced strict rules for how Chinese journalists should refer to dozens of sensitive issues.

Xinhua, China’s main news agency, has issued a notice outlining the required and prohibited conventions covering topics from people with disabilities and senior party officials, to Taiwan independence and the South China Sea.

According to a Chinese-language copy of the notice, there are 45 directives. Thirteen of those cover terminology restrictions for territory and sovereignty issues, including Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau and Xinjiang, as well as the disputed Spratly and Senkaku Islands.

Translation of Xinhua’s “Banned phrases that refer to Chinese territory, sovereignty and Hong Kong and Taiwan”

  • Hong Kong and Macau are special administrative regions, and Taiwan is a province of China. These regions should not be referred to as “countries” in any text, maps or graphs, especially when many other countries and regions are also being mentioned.
  • If the use of names referring to Taiwan’s governmental system and other such institutions cannot be avoided, then quotation marks should be used, such as Taiwan’s “Legislative Yuan,” “Executive Yuan,” “Control Yuan,” “Central Election Commission,” “Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics, Executive Yuan.” The words “central,” “national,” “Chinese Taipei” should be avoided. If it the use of such words cannot be avoided then quotation marks should be used, such as Taiwan “Central Bank.” Taiwan’s “Premier,” “Legislators,” and other such terms should be put in quotation marks. Taiwan’s “National Tsing Hua University,” “Palace Museum,” and other such names should be put in quotation marks. Under no condition should “President (or Vice-President) of the Republic of China” be used to refer to the leaders of Taiwan, even if it is put in quotation marks.
  • The so-called “law” in Taiwan should be referred to as “relevant regulations of Taiwan.” When referring to legal affairs in Taiwan, do not use international legal terms such as “document validation,” “judicial assistance,” or “extradition.”
  • Do not use the term “兩岸三地”, which is a media term that refers collectively to China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau.
  • Do not use the phrase “tourists from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan visit China.” Instead, use “tourists from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan visit the mainland (or 'inland').”
  • “Taiwan” and “the Mainland” are corresponding concepts; “Hong Kong and Macau” and “inland” are corresponding concepts. Do not confuse the two.
  • Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau and China cannot be used together, for example “China-Hong Kong,” “China-Macau,” “China-Taiwan.” Use instead “the inland and Hong Kong,” “Mainland and Taiwan,” or “Beijing-Hong Kong,” “Shanghai-Hong Kong,” “Minnan-Taiwan.”
  • “Taiwan Independence” should be put in quotations.
  • Some Taiwanese non-governmental organizations such as “Taoist Society of the Republic of China,” “Chinese Cross-Strait Marriages Coordination and Promotion Association” whose names include the words “China” or “Chinese” should be put in quotation marks.
  • Do not refer to Taiwan as “Formosa.” If paraphrasing or quoting in a report, put it in quotations.
  • The “Nansha Islands” should not be referred to as the “Spratly Islands.”
  • Diaoyu Island should not be referred to as the “Senkaku Islands.”
  • It is forbidden to refer to Xinjiang as “East Turkestan.”

Editor: Edward White