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China’s Construction of a Modern Global Information Dissemination System

[Editor’s Note: On February 26, 2010, the website "Socialism with Chinese Characteristics" published a report that discussed an important idea for the Chinese Communist Regime, "It is an urgent strategic task for us to construct a modern dissemination system with extensive coverage and advanced technology, achieve high power in global dissemination that matches our economic and social development status and our international position, and break the Western media’s monopoly pattern." The following is a translation of the key ideas from the article.] [1]

"The National Conference on Publicizing China Overseas concluded on January 5, 2010. This year the conference clearly brought up a number of high priority tasks related to propaganda targeting foreign countries. These included strengthening the development of the institutional mechanism for issuing press releases and building a good system for servicing and managing foreign media reporters and journalists who are in China; strengthening the propaganda and management of Internet information and creating a favorable public opinion environment on the Internet; effectively implementing the campaign of international public opinion in order to safeguard our national security and social stability; organizing foreign cultural exchanges to enhance the influence of Chinese culture; widely carrying out major international public relations activities and boosting news exchange and cooperation with foreign media; enlarging and strengthening the media that publicize China overseas and building a modern dissemination system with extensive coverage and advanced technology; and strengthening and paying great attention to the development of the cadre troops that publicize China overseas."

"The State Council News Office Minister, Wang Chen, said that improving our global dissemination ability complies with global media’s development trend and is a must in order to realize the leap-forward development of China’s media; … (improving our global dissemination) is a must to inform the world about China; is a must in order to actively participate in international cultural competition, and enhance Chinese culture’s soft power; and is must for breaking the Western media’s monopoly and promoting a world information and communication order that is more just and reasonable."

"At present, Xinhua News Agency broadcasts China’s news to the world 24/7 in 7 languages. … CCTV’s international channels in English, Spanish, French and other languages are broadcast in the United States, Great Britain, France, Northern Europe, Africa, Hong Kong, and other countries and regions, and some programs have gotten into their local TV channels. In 2009, we opened two more channels in Arabic and Russian, respectively. Our international radio broadcasts to the world in 59 languages and its influence is continuing to expand. China Daily currently is distributed to more than 150 countries and regions around the world and has a wide impact. Including the journals published by the Chinese Foreign Language Bureau, there are more than 30 journals at the national level that are published in other countries, and more than 200 journals at the regional level. "

"However, China’s current global dissemination power still does not match our national economic and social development. China’s global media resources and international voice are still very limited, and the dissemination power should be improved. It still happens sometimes that Western media misunderstand or even purposely distort China’s image."

"In the meeting celebrating the 50th anniversary of China’s television industry and CCTV, the CCP Central Committee Political Bureau Standing Committee member Li Changchun said, ‘As China’s economy  and society rapidly develop and our international position continues to rise, our dissemination power has yet to meet the requirement of our economic and social development, has yet to meet people’s growing spiritual and cultural needs, has yet to meet the rapid developing situation of modern science, technology and communication, and has yet to meet China’s new international status and influence.’"

"Wang Chen said, ‘There is still a big gap between China’s media and the overseas world-class media. Our voice is still relatively weak in the competition between international public opinions. The situation that more than 80 percent of global news and information comes from major Western media still has not fundamentally changed. Our media coverage does not have enough influence within the Western mainstream. Our passive position within international public opinion has not fundamentally changed.’"

“Yu Guoming, the Associate Dean of the College of Journalism at Renmin University, has offered this interpretation, ‘The key issue that has caused China’s voice to be so weak on the global media stage is that, in the international dissemination field, Western mainstream media have basically established the current rules of the game. These rules shape people’s information consumption appetite, and determine their talking styles in dissemination. This is what our media must face and adapt to when reaching out to the world.’” 

"Shan Bo, Associate Dean of the News and Media College at Wuhan University said, ‘Instead of creating a new rule, China should set the tone for its overseas publiciity on breaking the Western monopoly on discourse that is centered in the United States. We should be clear on this. What we need is to have an equal exchange, understanding, and communication in our cultures, and build a harmonious world.’"

"In addition to newspapers, radio, television and other traditional media, the Internet and mobile media, with many advantages, such as their massive, interactive, and real-time features, are rapidly taking over the frontier development of the media industry. … With this trend, all the countries around the globe are competing to use the Internet as an effective media for publicizing national images, improving their international dissemination power, and trying to occupy the forefront of information dissemination."

"‘With the deepening of media convergence and the growing status of the Internet on revealing, building, leading, and penetrating international opinion, there will soon be a new battlefield in the international war of dissemination. That is, in using social media as a way to achieve penetration, and fighting over young Internet users in target countries, victory will definitely belong to whichever side masters the essential characteristics of this new media, has a clear strategy, and takes quick action,’ said Dr. Deng Jianguo of the College of Journalism, Fudan University. He believes that the effort to build a world-class media is a new opportunity for China to greatly develop global information dissemination."

"In June 2008, when General Secretary Hu Jintao inspected People’s Daily newspaper, he said, ‘The Internet has become the center for ideological and cultural information and the amplifier of public opinion.’ He brought up that, “We must be fully aware of the social influence of the new media forms such as the Internet, pay great attention to the development, use, and management of the Internet, and strive to make the Internet become a frontier for spreading the advanced culture of Socialism, an effective platform for providing public cultural services, and a vast space for promoting the healthy development of people’s cultural lives.’ In December 2009, when Li Changchun attended the launching ceremony of China Network Television (CNTV), he said that, in today’s society, with highly developed information dissemination technologies, it is a general trend for the mainstream media to spread and extend into the Internet and other new media forms. In strengthening the dissemination power of mainstream media, we must enhance the sense of urgency and take the initiative to extend into the Internet, actively explore new media forms, and constantly expand coverage and boost influence."

"He Jiazheng, president of People Daily Online, said, ‘How can we take advantages of the Internet to better publicize China to overseas readers and improve our national image? This has become an issue that all of China’s Internet media must actively think about and deal with.’ He suggested that new media should further strengthen the numbers and intensity of news reporting, which will let China increase its international influence and voice."

"In order for Chinese culture to ‘walk outside’ [go abroad], we must have a global perspective and need to actively explore the influence of Chinese culture as it spreads to the world. Overall, currently most of the Western understanding of Chinese culture is limited to food, Chinese medicine, martial arts, Chinese opera, landscapes, and other similar aspects. It is extremely urgent to introduce the excellent results of contemporary Chinese culture, especially those cultural achievements that have the core value system with Chinese characteristics, to the world. … Each year, there are a large number of excellent academic achievements in China’s Philosophy and Social Sciences fields. However, due to the poor international communication for academic information and language barriers, this precious spiritual wealth rarely gains any attention from the international community. This really is quite unfortunate in today’s cultural communication."

"Dr. Du Huizhen from the School of Journalism and Communication, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, believes that ‘scholar strategy’ has a unique significance in publicizing our national image. She says that scholars’ multiple identities, authoritative status, nature of work, and academic positions all account for the fact that implementing the ‘scholar strategy’ is more diverse than only discussing how to improve media: it can have interpersonal dissemination, organizational dissemination, and media dissemination. Therefore, if we utilize the scholars’ roles well when building our national image, then through their participation in academic activities, we can have a more thorough and lasting impact."

"Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Documentation and Information Center researcher Zhang Shuhua has made several suggestions on ‘walking outside’: establish political confidence and national self-confidence; be good at expressing and not afraid to change our styles and discourse system; actively contribute to writing articles and utilizing our high level ‘think tanks’; form international forums, bring up international topics, and set the global agenda; establish a variety of international academic exchange funds in order to build the bridge of ‘walking outside, and inviting in’; and gather talent, especially good translation teams in all languages."

"In the process of gaining the right to speak and the right to lead and enhance dissemination power, philosophy and the social sciences can have a great impact. They will have an irreplaceable role in the timely and powerful dissemination of China’s voice to the world."

[1] Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Feb 2, 2010