Document Number Nine

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Document Number Nine (or Document No. 9), more properly the Communiqué on the Current State of the Ideological Sphere[1] (also translated as the Briefing on the Current Situation in the Ideological Realm[2]) is a confidential internal document widely circulated within the Communist Party of China in 2013 by the General Office of the Communist Party of China.[3][4] The document was first published in July 2012.[5] The document warns of seven dangerous Western values, allegedly including media freedom and judicial independence. With respect to education coverage of the topics is forbidden.[6] There is an emphasis on controlling and preventing communication using the internet of ideas subversive to one party rule. The document was issued in the context of planned economic reforms and increased calls for political reform.[7] It has been described as a critique of the "liberal ways of thinking".[8]

The document was not made available to public by the Chinese government, but in July 2013 was allegedly leaked by Chinese dissident journalist Gao Yu, who was in turn sentenced to a seven-year imprisonment for "leaking state secrets."[9][10]


The document has been described as a communiqué[1] or circular[2] The name of the document (Document Number Nine), as it came to be commonly referred in Western English-language press,[2][11] comes from the fact that it was the ninth such document issued that year in China.[1]


The document is highly critical of what can be broadly described as "Western values" (the document itself uses terms such as "Western values", "Western principles", "Western standards", "Western ideas", and more precisely, "Western constitutional democracy" and "Western-style theories of governance," as well as making references to "Western anti-China forces").[1] The document is critical of "extremely malicious" ideals spreading in the Chinese society, such as ideas of (Western) constitutional democracy, civil society, universal values (freedom, democracy, and human rights), neo-liberalism, and freedom of the press (described as the "Western news values").[1][2][11] The document warns that such subjects undermine the Chinese Communist Party's control over the Chinese society.[2]


The contents of the memo became known when accounts of presenting it to cadre in the Liaoyuan municipal government were published in the local paper.[12][13] In May 2013 cadre at the Chongqing Party Committee for Urban and Rural Construction studied the material,[14] as did cadre in Anyang.[15] However, there were no explicit mentions of the seven Western values above.

In April 2015, the Wall Street Journal's Josh Chin[16] reported a 71-year-old Chinese journalist was convicted for releasing Document 9. Journalist, Gao Yu, was sentenced to seven years in prison by Beijing’s Third Intermediate People’s Court after being found guilty in a closed trial of leaking state secrets to foreign media, Ms. Gao was accused by the court of leaking an internal Communist Party directive to an overseas Chinese news site in 2013, according to her lawyer, Mo Shaoping. Known as Document No. 9. Historically, it is rare for Chinese authorities to detain or jail elderly critics, who were traditionally given quiet warnings when they crossed political red lines. The article suggests that charge is a pretext for aggressive action against political dissent and cites other examples of elderly publishers / journalist being prosecuted.


According to news analysis by a reporter at The New York Times, the emphasis on political discipline is intended to forestall leftist, or Maoist, opposition to needed economic reforms avoiding the split which resulted in the Soviet Union during Gorbachev's reform efforts when media freedom resulted in publishing of a great deal of critical historical material and alienation of the mass of party workers.[7]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Document 9: A ChinaFile Translation". ChinaFile. 8 November 2013. Retrieved 6 May 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Tilting backwards". The Economist. 24 June 2013. ISSN 0013-0613. Retrieved 6 May 2015. 
  3. ^ 省储备局认真学习贯彻落实《关于当前意识形态领域情况的通报》,湖南机关党建, 16 May 2013
  4. ^ 西藏广电局召开传达学习有关文件精神会议,中国西藏之声网, 9 May 2013
  5. ^ 任洁,当前我国意识形态建设面临的六大挑战,党建2012–第7期
  6. ^ Raymond Li (29 August 2013). "Seven subjects off limits for teaching, Chinese universities told: Civil rights, press freedom and party's mistakes among subjects banned from teaching in order described by an academic as back-pedalling". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 19 September 2013. 
  7. ^ a b "China Warns Officials Against ‘Dangerous’ Western Values" article by Chris Buckley in The New York Times 13 May 2013
  8. ^ "Mixed messages". The Economist. 29 June 2013. ISSN 0013-0613. Retrieved 6 May 2015. 
  9. ^ "Chinese journalist Gao Yu faces seven years in prison for "leaking state secrets"". Retrieved 6 May 2015. 
  10. ^ Buckley, Chris (16 April 2015). "Chinese Journalist Sentenced to 7 Years on Charges of Leaking State Secrets". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 6 May 2015. 
  11. ^ a b Buckley, Chris (19 August 2013). "China Takes Aim at Western Ideas". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 6 May 2015. 
  12. ^ 市委组织部迅速贯彻落实《关于当前意识形态领域情况的通报》及《吉林:创新领航催振兴》通讯精神Liaoyuan Daily, 10 May 2013
  13. ^ 市委召开常委(扩大)会议 专题学习当前意识形态领域情况通报Xianyang Daily, 21 May 2013,See also:[1]
  14. ^ 高举旗帜坚定信心 坚决同党中央保持高度一致,重庆市城乡建设委员会, 9 May 2013,See also:[2]
  15. ^ 安阳政协学习《当前意识形态领域情况的通报》的通知, Ta Kung Pao, 13 May 2013. archived from the original on 23 July 2015
  16. ^

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