New minister knows power of culture
By Xing Zhigang (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-03-18 07:19
Of all the Cabinet-level ministers appointed yesterday, Cai Wu was the only one to walk to the press area to take questions from journalists.
Of course, as the minister of the State Council Information Office, fronting up to the press was all part of a day's work for the 59-year-old.
And Cai brings his media savvy to his new job as the minister of culture.
"I have made friends and built a close relationship with the media during my tenure at the State Council Information Office," he said. "We will remain friends after I move to the Ministry of Culture."
Cai's replacement as the minister of the Information Office is yet to be named.
Cai, a native of Wudu county of Gansu province, graduated in international politics from the elite Peking University and has a doctorate in law. He began his career as a lecturer at his alma mater before being transferred to the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Youth League in July 1983.
In July 1997, Cai was appointed vice-minister of the International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), which is in charge of exchanges with parties in other countries.
In August 2005, Cai became minister of the Information Office of the State Council, and in the nearly three years he has been in charge, he pushed hard for the establishment of a government spokesperson system across the nation to give the media wider access to official information.
So far, the system has been implemented in seven CPC Central Committee departments, 74 departments of the State Council and 31 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions. The Ministry of National Defense is to set up the spokesperson system this year.
Cai has won praise for his efforts to improve services for overseas journalists. Along with the Foreign Ministry, the office introduced a set of regulations on overseas reporting in the run-up to and during the Olympics, making it much easier for overseas reporters to conduct interviews in China.
Cai yesterday pledged to give full play to his experience in his new job.
"Promoting cultural exchanges with other countries is one of the major missions of the culture ministry," he said. "I believe my experience in foreign exchanges will be of help to my new work."
Cai, however, acknowledged that some challenges lie ahead. "The biggest is that I am a layman in culture," he said modestly. "I need to learn a lot to adapt to the new role as soon as possible."
But he is well aware of the importance of culture - two years ago, Cai underscored one of the challenges for the Ministry of Culture: To build China's soft power through the promotion of Chinese culture.
"To strengthen the appeal and influence of Chinese culture is crucial to building the country's soft power," he said in a speech in 2006.
A good start is half the job done, they say. Cai has only the other half to complete.
(China Daily 03/18/2008 page1)