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