Conference seeks clearer image for nation

By Xie Chuanjiao (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-10-23 06:29

China's distorted image in the world may become a major obstacle to its future growth, warned the first Global Journalism and Communication Conference, held over the weekend in Beijing.

"Sometimes, even stories which are reported objectively can give the wrong signal," Wu Jianmin, president of Foreign Affairs College and former Chinese Ambassador to France, told attendees.

For example, the Chinese media reports heavily on China's GDP and trade growth, giving the impression that everything in the country is rosy.

"It is true China is getting stronger and more prosperous, and the rise of China is the mainstream of the information we want to convey to the world," said Wu.

"But success has a price, and we need to report the problems we have as well."

For example, more than 2.4 million Chinese are unemployed, while more than 350 million have no access to clean drinking water, said Wu.

"If the Chinese media improves what it reports to the outside world, it will greatly benefit the development of ties between China and the rest of the world."

Some conference participants said biased stands taken by some Western media have caused a further deterioration of China's distorted international image.

"For decades most of the Western media's coverage of China was about the nation's weaknesses," Liu Kang, director of Chinese Media and Communication Studies at Duke University, said.

"They are astonished to see a real, robust and attractive China once they arrive here."

Experts called for Chinese media to take steps to restore the national image and improve their say in international journalism and communications.

"It is interesting that the 'China threat' theory has actually been created by yourselves to some extent, since all the Western world can read about China is the sunny side of the nation," said Miles Young, chairman of Ogilvy and Mather Asia Pacific.

"I suggest the Chinese media takes a fairer and more confident approach, showing the world a more balanced picture of the country."

Zhu Yinghuang, former editor-in-chief of China Daily, further stressed the huge challenges and responsibilities facing Chinese media.

"A nation's image is established by the country itself, but the media plays an important role," Zhu said. "We cannot count on Western society to dramatically change its views of China, rather we ourselves need to act first."

To date major Chinese media providing overseas services include China Daily, CCTV 9, China Radio International, the Xinhua News Agency, People's Daily, the China News Service and Shanghai-based Dragon TV, which has just marked the 20th anniversary of its English news service.