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BEIJING - More than 800 people gathered at the Great Hall of the People on Tuesday to celebrate China Daily's 30-year journey from an eight-page black/white newspaper to a global media group with 12 publications and audiences in Asia, Europe and North America.
From retired journalists in their 80s and heads of major news organizations to dignitaries from Party and government departments, the participants also marked the national English-language newspaper's new voyage of development into a leading international multimedia group.
"China Daily - as an important medium of China's international communication - has become the window for China to know the world and for the world to understand China," Li Changchun, member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, wrote in his congratulatory letter.
"While highlighting China's determination for peaceful development, China Daily also needs to help promote China's vision of a harmonious world with long-lasting peace and shared prosperity," Li added in his letter, which was read at Tuesday's event.
Other leaders of the Party and government departments focused on the challenges China Daily faces as advances in information technology have created multiple news delivery platforms.
"In the face of serious media competition and increased audience selectivity, China Daily needs to come up with more innovative content and formats to maintain its competitive edge and win audiences," Liu Yunshan, a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and head of the CPC Central Committee's Publicity Department, said in a keynote speech.
"In keeping up with advances in information technology, China Daily needs to transform its traditional mode of communication with the latest technology, actively promote new media and provide services using the Internet and mobile devices," Liu said.
In his address, Wang Chen, minister of the State Council Information Office, highlighted the necessity "to reduce international misunderstanding and misconception over China's rise".
"China Daily needs to embrace the latest trends at home and abroad, reflect international public opinion, and sharpen its coverage of domestic and global events of great importance," Wang said.
Retracing China Daily's journey since its first official issue rolled off the presses on June 1, 1981, Zhu Ling, China Daily's editor-in-chief, not only summarized the paper's past achievements but also emphasized that the celebration of its 30th birthday marks "a starting point" to build it into a "top-notch international all-media group".
China Daily "must recognize the increasing integration of the Internet and the traditional media, hasten its own strategic transformation and narrow the gap with leading international news media", Zhu said.
China Daily is building a comprehensive network to gather news and information, and will also boost production and delivery, enabling it to reach a global audience via a range of media channels that will enhance interaction with readers, Zhu said.
China Daily must be able to keep pace with advances in information technology and remain a pioneer in communicating via the new media, Zhu said.
Along with the official keynote speeches were personal reflections.
Bill Gaspard, China Daily's design director and one of the more than 70 expat journalists at the paper, told of the brief panic he experienced on arrival that soon gave way to a feeling of familiarity when he entered the newsroom.
"My first day at work I spoke with a top editor about the mission of China Daily - to bring the story of China to the world and to bring the world's story to China," Gaspard recalled.
He spoke about how important it was - in such a complex, fast-moving world - to break down stereotypes, dissipate the mistrust between people and to promote mutual understanding. "That mission resonates with us as we push to improve the professional standards of China Daily. And those standards have improved substantially, along with the reach of the paper," Gaspard said.
"Birthdays are for wishes and mine for China Daily are that it continues to reach for new heights and helps to bridge the divide between our view of the past and our understanding of the future," he said.
Retired editor, Wu Jingshu, 85, recalled the days when he worked on the trial issues of a 4-page broadsheet.
A representative of journalists from a younger generation, Tan Yingzi, China Daily's chief Washington correspondent, shared her experiences.
Congratulatory messages, meanwhile, poured in from across the world.
"It is my pleasure to congratulate China Daily on its achievements over the three decades as China's official English-language newspaper - a significant milestone," Julia Gillard, prime minister of Australia, wrote.