BEIJING - Spokespersons for 11 departments of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee made an unprecedented group appearance on Wednesday to meet domestic and overseas journalists.
Wang Chen, director of the International Communication Office of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, answers questions on Wednesday at a news conference where 11 spokespersons for the CPC Central Committee departments met the press for the first time. [China Daily]
The group met the media one day ahead of the 89th anniversary of the founding of the CPC, which has nearly 78 million members.
The press conference attracted more than 120 reporters, a record attendance at a news briefing hosted by the International Communication Office of the CPC Central Committee.
"The CPC Central Committee has always paid great attention to information disclosure of Party affairs and will try to increase transparency," Wang Chen, director of the International Communication Office of the CPC Central Committee, told the press conference.
Wang said making Party affairs public has been a major focus of the work of the CPC in recent years.
The CPC Central Committee proposed the spokesperson system in September last year, he said.
"It is the key to ... promoting intra-Party democracy and improving the Party's governance," Wang said.
He said his office is working with the CPC departments to perfect the system.
The 11 spokespersons, including two women, represent departments such as the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the Organization Department.
A number of the Party organs have traditionally been low-profile and reluctant to respond to outside questions.
After the opening remarks by Wang Chen, the spokespersons each took their turn to brief the reporters on their departments and efforts to increase transparency.
A brochure of their biographies and phone numbers was also given to each reporter.
The media hailed the latest move as a gesture by the Party to be more open.
"It's like a promise that the CPC made to be more open, though I understand that it will be a gradual process," said Han Yong Hong, Beijing chief correspondent with the Singapore-based Chinese language newspaper Lianhe Zaobao.
Benjamin Lim, the chief political correspondent at Thomson Reuters' Beijing bureau, told China Daily that he hopes Party organs can become more open and transparent to the media.
"For instance, next time if the officials of the United Front Work Department meet the Dalai Lama's private representatives, I hope they could let us, the foreign reporters, be present, even if they spare us just five minutes after the talks," he said.
"We are also wondering when the Party's archives authorities can make open some of the historical documents," Lim said, adding that the spokespersons should also give reporters their name cards with cell phone numbers included.
"Today's conference is a good beginning," said Anthony Kuhn, China correspondent with the US-based National Public Radio.
"However, there are still things needed for improvement. I think the Party's spokespersons can invite the leaders in their departments to make face-to-face contacts with the media, as their peers in the State Council Information Office have frequently done."
Wu Hui, a professor at the Central Party School, said the new measure has reflected the Party's growing awareness of public relations.
"The Party is advancing with the times."
Ren Jianming, director of the anti-corruption and governance research center of Tsinghua University, said he hopes the spokespersons will "pay more attention to the substance of the mechanism than its form. And the mysterious personnel changes within the Party can also be open for public scrutiny".
Xinhua contributed to the story.