A style guide for Party media: no bosses or green tea bitches - China’s latest society and culture news - SupChina

A style guide for Party media: no bosses or green tea bitches – China’s latest society and culture news


Founded in 1931 as Red China News Agency 红色中华通讯社, and named after the 1949 revolution, Xinhua News Agency is China’s most important state-owned newswire. Every day, Xinhua feeds thousands of articles to newspapers, websites, and TV stations across China. Xinhua copy is available for free to any news organization; in addition, during some political events, news organizations are required to use Xinhua copy.

So when Xinhua updates its style guide, it affects the way the news is written in every media organization in mainland China. On July 20, Xinhua added 57 new rules (in Chinese) to its existing style guide (which was released in May 2015). Here are some of them:

    • Boss
      Never use boss (老板 lǎobǎn) to describe leading cadres of the Party or people in charge of state-owned enterprises.
    • Suspects and criminals
      For people accused of crimes, always call them suspects (犯罪嫌疑人 fànzuìxiányírén) instead of criminals (罪犯 zuìfàn) before they are pronounced guilty.
    • Non-Communist persons
      Generally avoid using the phrase non-Party person (非党人士 fēidǎngrénshì). Under a specific circumstance, if it is necessary to emphasize one’s identity as a Democratic Party member, use non-Communist person (非中共人士 fēizhōnggòngrénshì).
    • Islam
      For coverage on Islam (伊斯兰教 yīsīlán jiào), never bring up any content related to pigs. For livestock consumed by Muslims, only use the word slaughter (宰 zǎi) and never use kill (杀 shā).
    • The motherland and the mainland
      The counterpart to Taiwan is motherland mainland (祖国大陆 zǔguódàlù) or mainland (大陆 dàlù). The counterpart concept to Hong Kong and Macau is inland (内地 nèidì). They cannot be mixed up.
    • Official visits to Hong Kong
      Party leaders’ trips to Hong Kong and Macau can only be called inspection (视察 shìchá), not foreign visit (出访 chūfǎng).
    • Belt and Road
      Do not use strategy (战略 zhànlüè) to describe One Belt, One Road. Use initiative (倡议 chàngyì).
    • Soviet Union
      Never use former Soviet Union (前苏联 qiánsūlián), just use Soviet Union (苏联 sūlián).
    • Vulgar phrases
      A total of 38 vulgar phrases (不文明用语 búwénmíngyòngyǔ) are strictly banned. These include several vulgar sayings and puns about mothers such as 草泥马 cǎonímǎ, slang words for anal sex and ultra short miniskirts, common insults as well as more unusual taunts like “green tea bitch” (绿茶婊 lǜchá biǎo), meaning a girl who seems innocent and charming but is actually calculating and manipulative.

SupChina also published a full translation of the style guide.

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Jiayun Feng

Jiayun was born in Shanghai, where she spent her first 20 years and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism at Fudan University. Interested in writing for a global audience, she attended the NYU Graduate School of Journalism for its Global & Joint Program Studies, which allowed her to pursue a journalism career along with her interest in international relations. She has previously interned for Sixth Tone and Shanghai Daily.