Document Number Nine

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Communiqué on the Current State of the Ideological Sphere
Simplified Chinese关于当前意识形态领域情况的通报
Traditional Chinese關於當前意識形態領域情況的通報
Literal meaningBriefing on the Current Situation in the Ideological Realm

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 Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 2013 by the General Office of the CCP.[3][4] The document was first circulated in July 2012.[5] The document warns of seven dangerous Western values, allegedly including media freedom and judicial independence. Teaching on any of the seven topics is forbidden.[6][vague] 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 Communist Party or any branches of 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]

It is unclear whether this document is official Chinese policy or just a faction within the party.[11] However, The New York Times suggests that it "bears the unmistakable imprimatur of Xi Jinping".[12] It is thought that Document No. 9 was issued by the General Office of the Central Committee, and would have required the approval of CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping and other top leaders.[12]


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][13] 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][13] The document warns that such subjects undermine the CCP's control over Chinese society.[2] The document also promotes ways of dealing with these problems, which include "Unwavering adherence to the principle of the Party's control of media."


The prelude to this document references a previous article of 2012[14] and raises six challenges faced by China in asserting control over its ideology, while also identifying various routes by which Western hostile forces might subvert Chinese ideology.

  1. The cultural penetration of Western hostile forces threatens the security of our ideology. There are three main ways of cultural penetration:
    • The first is direct cultural propaganda, that is, the use of modern media for long-term ideological penetration.
    • The second is to use cultural commodities as a carrier to infiltrate the various values of the West into the public. (Cultural commodities refers to movies, novels, commercial goods, and other commodities which might be subverted by Western hostile forces.)
    • The third is to infiltrate Western values into social elites such as high-level scholars and intellectuals under the cover of educational and academic exchanges.
  2. Various social thoughts aim to hinder or subvert the authoritative identification of China's mainstream ideology.
  3. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the fall of communism in Eastern Europe have undermined belief in China's mainstream ideology.
  4. The theme of development and the goal of modernization have played down the opposition between ideologies. (i.e. opposition between the Western system of liberal democracy and the Chinese system of "socialism with Chinese characteristics", which by implication are irrevocably opposed.)
  5. Diverse value orientations have a negative impact on China's mainstream ideology.
  6. Information networking poses a challenge to the control of our ideology.

The Seven Noteworthy Problems[edit]

The document specifically addresses the following issues that were seen as problems.[11] These are the terms used in the document itself:

  1. Promoting Western Constitutional Democracy: An attempt to undermine the current leadership and the "socialism with Chinese characteristics" system of governance. (Including the separation of powers, the multi-party system, general elections, and independent judiciaries.)
  2. Promoting “universal values” in an attempt to weaken the theoretical foundations of the Party's leadership. (That “the West’s values are the prevailing norm for all human civilization”, that “only when China accepts Western values will it have a future”.)
  3. Promoting civil society in an attempt to dismantle the ruling party's social foundation. (i.e. that individual rights are paramount and ought to be immune to obstruction by the state.)
  4. Promoting neoliberalism, attempting to change China's basic economic system. (i.e. "unrestrained economic liberalization, complete privatization, and total marketization".)
  5. Promoting the West's idea of journalism, challenging China's principle that the media and publishing system should be subject to Party discipline.
  6. Promoting historical nihilism, trying to undermine the history of the CPC and of New China. (For example to deny the scientific and guiding value of Mao Zedong thought.)
  7. Questioning Reform and Opening and the socialist nature of socialism with Chinese characteristics. (For example, saying “We have deviated from our Socialist orientation.”)


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.[15][16] In May 2013, cadre at the Chongqing Party Committee for Urban and Rural Construction studied the material,[17] as did cadre in Anyang.[18] However, there were no explicit mentions of the seven Western values above.[citation needed]

In April 2015, the Wall Street Journal's Josh Chin 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. 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 the charge is a pretext for aggressive action against political dissent and cites other examples of elderly publishers and journalists being prosecuted.[19]


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]

See also[edit]


  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》 Archived 15 June 2013 at the Wayback Machine,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 Archived 15 June 2013 at the Wayback Machine,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". Archived from the original on 31 October 2012. Retrieved 20 February 2016.
  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'". CBS News. 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 "Document 9". 8 November 2013.
  12. ^ a b Buckley, Chris (19 August 2013). "China Takes Aim at Western Ideas". The New York Times.
  13. ^ a b Buckley, Chris (19 August 2013). "China Takes Aim at Western Ideas". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 6 May 2015.
  14. ^ "(Mandarin Chinese only) 当前我国意识形态建设面临的六大挑战--理论--人民网". 31 October 2012. Archived from the original on 31 October 2012. Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  15. ^ 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 Archived 13 April 2014 at the Wayback MachineLiaoyuan Daily, 10 May 2013
  16. ^ 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 Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback MachineXianyang Daily, 21 May 2013,See also:[1]
  17. ^ 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]
  18. ^ 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 Archived 23 July 2015 at the Wayback Machine on 23 July 2015
  19. ^ Chin, Josh. "China Sentences 71-Year-Old Journalist to 7 Years". WSJ. Retrieved 20 November 2019.

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