Wednesday, April 22, 2009

China:English Version of Global Times was launched--another international media outreach.

We discussed in class tonight about Chinese government’s increasing efforts in expanding international media. Here is a very recent example. Yesterday, The English Version of Global Times (which focuses more on international news, and affiliated to People’s Daily, the Official Party Newspaper) was launched. This was a conscious decision and also a yearning of letting the outside world know more about China and a more truthful China from the perspectives of Chinese policymakers and academia. I have highlighted a few scholars’ reaction to this launch in the news article. As some scholars pointed out, the identity of Global Times may be a concern. In my opinion, the launch of its new English-language edition and website is a good start because if the English edition of the Global Times is on the track of fair and balanced reporting of international news and also Chinese domestic news, it may help drive the Chinese government to further liberalize its media gradually and the Chinese leadership will finally learn from various international experiences how to better cope with others’ criticism. As the Tibetan story occurred in the 08 Beijing Olympics Torch relay has shown, the Chinese government was so inexperienced, clumsy, and counter-productive in tackling with this “embarrassing incident” (for many Chinese leaders). Also this is related to the “Face” culture in China, embarrassing the government in public only angers the leaders, but in my personal opinion, they finally have to get used to this because as a big rising power, it is inevitable that it draws the whole world’s attention and will be exposed to spotlight very often. What they should do is trying to learn from the healthy criticism in order to act as a more responsible power in the international arena instead of fearing these criticism and trying to insulate the Chinese people from the foreign media’s negative coverage of the Chinese government.

The Global Times held a reception at the Kerry Center Hotel in Beijing yesterday to celebrate the launch of its new English-language edition and website.

Zhang Yannong, president of the People’s Daily, said in his opening speech, “The launch is a landmark step for the People’s Daily in building a system of modern communication.”

“This is a pivotal moment in history, ideal for the Global Times to take responsibility for making China more accessible to the English-speaking world,” Zhang said.

Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the Global Times, said in his welcome speech that the newspaper “will speak directly to foreign readers” and that he hopes “the transformation of the Global Times will be encouraged and facilitated.”

About 100 foreign diplomats, representatives of international media organizations and almost 200 local scholars and celebrities attended the event.

Jin Canrong, deputy dean of the School of International Studies at the Renmin University of China, praised the timing of the newspaper’s launch, saying China’s opening up over the next 30 years should center on letting the world know and accept China.

Chinese media should help world audiences to see China’s advancement, problems and challenges, but also make the world accept a country with a vast population that is experiencing unprecedented growth,” he said.

“It is incumbent on the Global Times to report in a fair and balanced manner, and always to seek the truth,” Ambassador Serge Abou, head of the Delegation of the European Commission to China, said at the reception.

“I started reading the Global Times today and it’s quite an experience,” said Henri Carrières, second secretary of the Embassy of Brazil. Laura Møller Dombernowsky, an assistant at the political affairs department of the Royal Danish Embassy, told the Global Times she was looking forward to “seeing how the newspaper will make a difference.”

Feng Zhongping, a professor at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, said the Global Times’ endeavors epitomized the image of a hard-working China.

Professor Yu Guomin, deputy dean of the School of Journalism at the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times that he is optimistic about the newspaper’s prospects despite the decline the world’s press has been facing since September.

While some Chinese scholars voiced concerns over the identity of the Global Times, most were upbeat about the launch.

“Many foreigners believe the Chinese media is like an octopus with lots of tentacles but controlled by a single brain. This belief could be fatal for the opening up of Chinese media, but if the English edition of the Global Times can shed light on the complexity of Chinese issues and always stick to the truth, it may help to change the Western stereotype,” Zha Daojiong, professor at the School of International Studies of Peking University, told the Global Times.

He Maochun, director of the Center of Economy and Diplomacy at Tsinghua University, said the Global Times will provide an alternative to China’s existing English-language national newspaper, and can respect the principals of journalism and improve the reporting quality.

Published by the People’s Daily, the Global Times Chinese edition was established in 1993 and specializes in current affairs and international issues. It has more than 500 correspondents in 75 countries and regions around the world.

With a circulation of 1.6 million, the newspaper is one of the country’s Top 500 brands with an estimated value of more than 1.4 billion yuan ($206 million), according to the People’s Daily.

The English edition of the Global Times launched yesterday with 100,000 copies being circulated from five cities across the country.

By 11 pm last night, the English version of the Global Times website had received 100,000 visits, according to official statistics.

On the Chinese website, an Internet user nicknamed “Sashimi” said Chinese people are eager to voice themselves in an objective way to show the world “a more open China.”

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