The past seven months have
witnessed increased coverage of China in the international media, thanks to the
bulging resident foreign correspondents corps, overseas media field trips and
most importantly, a fitting legal framework governing their work in the country.
"We are encouraged to see an increasing number of reports by foreign
journalists, which now cover every aspect of our society," Liu Jianchao,
director-general of the Information Department of the Foreign Ministry, told
China Daily in an exclusive interview yesterday.
"We are also encouraged to see that the new regulations have been widely
welcomed and followed by foreign journalists, either staying in, or just making
a brief visit to, China."
He was referring to the Regulations on Reporting Activities in China by
Foreign Journalists during the Beijing Olympic Games and the Preparatory Period,
which took effect on January 1.
According to the regulations, foreign media professionals enjoy wide and free
access to report from China. "China has followed up on its pledge to facilitate
the work of foreign journalists in China," he said. "They can do interviews as
long as they get the permission of interviewees.
"It's not easy
to enact a new legal document," Liu admitted. "We find it a sweating job to set
up coordination networks and make clarifications to the grassroots across a
country as big as China."
Liu cited a few cases in which related central and local government bodies
have made tremendous efforts to ensure "overall and accurate" implementation of
the new regulations.
China Customs has simplified procedures to enable foreign journalists clear
broadcasting equipment faster than before. All Chinese embassies and consulates
have speeded up visas applications, he added.
The Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad has also
done a lot to smooth the way for international media to cover Beijing's
preparations for next year's Games.
Many departments in both central and local governments have set up
spokesperson systems, which give quicker response and more information to
The Information Department of the Foreign Ministry even set up a
round-the-clock hotline answering questions from foreign journalists. "We are
trying to help them at the earliest time, even at midnight," Liu said.
A foreign journalist once called from a village where he said he was stopped
by a village leader. "As soon as we received the call, we contacted the local
government and enabled the journalist to accomplish his work," he said.
"There have been fewer complaints from the foreign media," Liu said. Instead,
he and his fellow officers have been swamped by constant positive appraisals
from the foreign correspondents on the far-reaching significance of the
"The regulations have helped create a better environment for foreign
journalists to cover their stories in China in a more comprehensive, objective
and balanced way and enable their audiences and readers to understand what is
happening in China," Liu said. They are particularly significant as the Olympics
is only one year ahead.
As evidence of growing interest and confidence from the international media,
Liu cited a sharp increase of resident foreign correspondents in China since the
year's start. The contingent now numbers 705 from 351 media organizations based
in 53 countries, compared to 606, 315 and 49 seven months ago.
Meanwhile, some 2,060 foreign journalists came to China on reporting tours.
While expressing his own confidence in implementation of the regulations, Liu
acknowledged that it was unrealistic to expect that the regulations be
implemented without glitches.
"The regulations' full implementation needs close coordination among
different government bodies and it takes time for local governments and
organizations to fully understand the terms of the regulations," he said.
While foreign media workers have the freedom to cover China, they must still
abide by the Chinese laws and live up to professional standards.
China will continue to provide an open environment for foreign journalists,
but it is essential that they establish mutual trust and win the confidence of
the Chinese side, he said. "That way, more and more Chinese will get used to
being interviewed by foreign media."
Liu stressed that goodwill and constructive suggestions from the foreign
media will always be welcome, but the communication should work both ways. "We
are listening to them, therefore, at the same time, I hope they also listen to
us so that China can be reported in a more balanced and objective way," he said.
"We look forward to receiving journalists from across the world here in
Beijing in 2008. I am sure the foreign press in China will enjoy an even better
working environment and have more access to information in the future," Liu
(China Daily 08/03/2007 page1)