Beijing (AsiaNews) - China's propaganda department ordered national and local media to toe the party line in their coverage in print or live of Nelson Mandela's death and memorial service.
Although Beijing has sent Vice President Liu Yuanchao to represent China to the memorial ceremony at Johannesburg's FNB Stadium, calling the late South African leader "a great friend of China," China's press has been told to keep a low profile and "be prudent" against references to democracy and the Dalai Lama.
"All media and websites must be prudent in selecting the materials and [must] report appropriately," the propaganda department is quoted as saying. In fact, the guardians of China's communist orthodoxy are particularly concerned about Mandela' statements and actions in favour of democracy and human rights.
"All posts and comments on Weibo and blogs that take advantage of the funeral of Mandela to attack our political systems and state leaders must be deleted immediately," some mainland papers reported.
Two mainland journalists told the South China Morning Post that mainland media were not to report on the relationship between Mandela and the Dalai Lama, or on Taiwan-related issues. Until 1998, South Africa had diplomatic relations with Taiwan.
Local media were also ordered not to broach Mandela's personal life. The late South African president was married three times, and one of his wives had been subject to rumours of adultery.
"We were told not [print] gossip. But content on the positive China-South Africa relationship are welcomed," said an editor with a local media outlet.