Defense Ministry opens door to foreign media
Move marks latest step in country’s effort to promote military exchanges
Unlike dozens of news conferences held by the Ministry of National Defense over the past three years, Thursday’s welcomed foreign correspondents in Beijing for the first time.
All of them sat in the front row of the press room.
Describing it as “a special day”, spokesman Geng Yansheng began the 37th monthly news conference with a warm welcome for the eight foreign correspondents.
They represented overseas media including The Associated Press, Reuters, Itar-Tass News Agency, the Press Trust of India and Asahi Shimbun of Japan.
Geng said China hopes the move will help foreign correspondents with their reporting on the country and its military and also hopes they will come to know both better.
The new visitors asked questions about China’s relationship with other countries and also about its military buildup.
The news conference lasted about 20 minutes longer than usual.
Anton Marinin from ItarTass said in Chinese that all media naturally pay much attention to military news.
“Russia and China have a lot of military cooperation, so I hope to promote such cooperation through attending the news conference,” he said.
K.J.M. Varma of the Press Trust of India, who has worked in China for four years, said the move is long overdue and will bring better interaction between China and other countries, especially India, one of its neighbors.
“This is a place where we can probably engage very closely and clear up any misunderstandings,” he said.
The monthly news conferences, first held in April 2011, were previously attended by 12 media representatives from the Chinese mainland, four from Hong Kong, two from Macao and four from Taiwan.
The new move by the defense ministry marks another step in China’s efforts to enhance transparency and facilitate military exchanges with the public and foreign countries.
In November, China announced spokesmen for its seven military branches — the General Political Department, General Logistics Department, General Armament Department, the navy, air force, Second Artillery Force and the Armed Police.
It is believed that other large military units will also appoint spokesmen.