The government welcomes more journalists from abroad to cover events in the country, a top official said on Tuesday, vowing to implement more regulations to provide better services to them.
"We will adhere to the policy of opening up and are ready to provide even better services to the Chinese and foreign media," Wang Chen, minister of the State Council Information Office, said at a reception for journalists to welcome the New Year.
Overseas journalists swung into action immediately after his invitation, chasing him with questions as soon as he finished his speech.
The journalists' number swelled as Wang kept answering their greetings that came in many Chinese accents, as well as European languages. He had to change topics from accepting an appointment with a foreign news agency chief to sharing a joke with some American journalists.
The country's policy on the overseas media was by far the most common question asked by the journalists. The government adopted a temporary and more relaxed regulation on the overseas media on January 1, 2007, lifting many restrictions on journalists reporting during the Beijing Olympic Games. The regulation was formalized this October, making it easier for overseas journalists to conduct interviews.
Answering questions on whether the relaxed policy would be withdrawn because of late some negative reports have appeared in media, Wang said the government would never waver from the path of its opening-up policy on media regulation.
"The best experience of 30 years of opening up and reform is that only through them we can better communicate with the world. That's a policy we'll never depart from," he said. Instead, "our policies will become more open".
The country is going through a "very unusual and eventful year", facing "unexpected, rare and severe challenges" including the May 12 earthquake and the March 14 Lhasa riots, he said.
"While the events show our country has become stronger, we are also aware that we still have a long way to go before we catch up" with the developed world.
About 300 guests from the Chinese and overseas media organizations and diplomatic missions, and ministries and commissions under the central government were present at the reception. "We sincerely thank friends in the media who help present to people around the world the true picture of China," Wang said.
Some of the overseas journalists said that though China's media policy was better than before, it still needed improvement.
Zhang Ming, a Voice of America journalist based in Beijing, said some provincial authorities still did not follow the central government's regulation on the media.