In a further sign of incremental change in the Chinese government’s approach toward information sharing, the head of China’s State Council Information Office, the principal press office of the Chinese government, said yesterday that Chinese leaders needed to learn how to better interact with news media. [BELOW: Screenshot from China.org.cn of information office head Cai Wu pictured during a press conference in 2005].
Speaking with news media, information office head Cai Wu (蔡武), who is also a representative to the ongoing CPPCC, said many party cadres feared that by speaking with media they might “lose their official posts” (丢掉自己的乌纱帽), the official Xinhua News Agency reported. “When faced with a camera lens, no one speaks 100 percent right,” Cai said. “We need to create the right environment for leaders and cadres to feel relaxed. Of course, as an official you should not be afraid of meeting with reporters”.
Cai Wu emphasized in particular the need to familiarize the world with China’s policies and goals by dealing directly with foreign media. “What is China doing, how is it doing it, what problems is it facing, what dilemmas? What are the Chinese preparing to do, what goals are they pursuing? Stating these things clearly can actually go a long way to building a more objective international opinion environment,” Cai said.
In recent years, China’s government has moved to improve its mechanisms for dealing with news media. These have included the building up of spokesperson systems for regular press briefings, and encouraging government offices to launch Websites offering regularly updated information on government work.
In China, where the press is still tightly restricted by the party and leaders traditionally regard media as tools to control public opinion, facing off with the press is a relatively new, and for many officials, daunting, idea.
[Posted by David Bandurski, March 9, 2007, 12:09pm]