Telling China’s story to the world
Editor’s note: The China Spokespersons Forum was held in Shanghai on Saturday by the State Council Information Office and China Executive Leadership Academy Pudong. The theme of the forum is how to tell China’s story in a good way, and how to be a good spokesperson. The following are excerpts of some of the speeches: Jiang Jianguo, minister of the State Council Information Office
In his important talk on the Communist Party of China’s publicity work, General Secretary Xi Jinping expounded on the role, responsibilities, guidelines and principles of public information work as well as the tasks and requirements, and the fundamental guarantees for it.
In the early 1980s, China officially launched its spokespersons system. Over the past three decades, spokespersons have worked in the front line of publicity work, as witnesses, participants, facilitators and contributors to China’s reform, opening-up and modernization. The development of the Party’s publicity work has accompanied China’s opening-up and modernization, and it continues to display the distinctive characteristics of China and the times. of China
IZhao Qizheng, former minister of China’s State Council Information Office, and dean of the School of Journalism of Renmin University nformation released by the government is powerful in guiding the public opinion home and abroad. Therefore a spokesperson has the responsibility of telling China’s story to the world.
Government spokespersons should have maturity, authority and a sense of responsibility. They should have a good knowledge of both the domestic and world situations, be culturally literate, logical and polite.
These are extremely high requirements. But it is vital for the nation’s spokespersons to have a broad range of knowledge and be well acquainted with China’s policies at home and abroad, and to be able to express themselves so that audiences will accept what they are saying.
In order to meet these high requirements, spokespersons need specialized training, and the importance of their role should be respected. Poorly trained and part-time spokespersons will not be able to do the job well.
And behind the visible focus of the spokesperson there should be an invisible specialized team providing support. To do a good job a spokesperson needs the opportunity to take part in the highest level meetings of the government department or institution he or she serves.
First, it embodies the peopleoriented stance of the Communist Party of China and the government. People are the masters of the nation, and they have the right of being informed, participate in, and supervise the nation’s undertakings. The purpose of releasing information is to let people better understand the thoughts and deeds of the Party and the government; to make official decisions seen, heard, participated in and supervised, so as to win support from the people.
A spokesperson must be especially well-prepared when introducing a major policy initiative.
Yang Yujun, spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defense
In order to respond to questions about national defense and the development of the military, theMinistry of National Defense set up spokesperson and routine publication systems, below are our experience.
Information released by the Ministry of National Defense frequently involves sensitive issues. The best way to tackle these issues is to respond to them in a timely manner. A sensitive issue is like a ticking bomb, if you don’t defuse it the bomb will go off. As long as the spokesperson is wellprepared and deals with any difficult questions skillfully, these sensitive issues can help enhance our credibility.
A timely response is the best way to take the heat out of a hot topic, as it will guide public opinion both at home and abroad.
Being frank and transparent about negative issues can also create a positive impression and win over public opinion.
Therefore, the best response to a sensitive issue is to handle it swiftly and openly with flexible strategies, so the information process is under control.
In any argument, the power of a spokesperson does not depend on the height from which the information is being released, nor strong words, but the legal and
Second, it embodies the development of the nation’s governance system and governance capability. Institutionalization of the government’s releasing of information is part of modern governance and the capability of governance. The modernization of a nation’s governance is a systematic project and a complicated procedure. A government’s information work lays a foundation for governance and is a precondition for it.
Third, it embodies the confidence moral weight behind the words and how much truth they convey. These will ensure the spokesperson’s message is delivered in an honest and advantageous way, which is the most effective way of guiding public opinion.
TLi Zhong, spokesperson for the Ministry ofHuman Resources and Social Security he growing importance of the government’s public relations work for the nation’s development has also increased the public’s expectations for and of information, which requires spokespersons to have confidence in the message they deliver.
The type of information released can vary, for instance news release, incident response, or policy interpretation. As a result, a spokesperson needs to find the right tone.
TheMinistry ofHuman Resources and Social Security is a department closely related to people’s livelihoods, and so attracts lots of public attention. I believe a spokesperson’s confidence comes from the following:
In order to be a good spokesperson on issues concerning people’s well-being, we must do the job well, knowing that if a policy solves a practical problem the public will respond favorably.
So to be a good spokesperson in this field, we must have a thorough understanding of the problems people face and how a policy will affect them. Especially sensitive policies, any slight omission or and openness of socialism with Chinese characteristics. Nowadays the world is a community of shared destiny and interests. The international community is paying more attention than ever to China, so we need to tell the world with facts and authority how China is contributing to the world and help the world understand China.
I would like to take this forum as an opportunity to express my views on how to tell China’s story in a good way, and how to be a good spokesperson, which is also the theme of this forum. I believe that a good spokesperson should be confident and capable of using all media to convey China’s message in a timely and effective way.
First, China’s opening-up and development, growing national power and rising international status mean its spokespersons should have confidence when mistake will undoubtedly lead to speculation. In order to keep control of a news conference, the spokesperson should be familiar with the reason a policy is being introduced and what its foreseeable effects will be.
To be a good spokesperson about issues concerning people’s livelihoods, we must have a precise judgment of public’s needs and opinions. Before a news conference, a spokesperson must be well-prepared. The spokesperson needs to know the focus of public opinion, the questions that can be expected from reporters, what will become the public focus after the news is reported. The spokesperson should be aware of the importance of the media. An announcement of public policy should be open and frank, and should appreciate the role of newmedia as a channel for promoting policies.
To be a good spokesperson about people’s livelihoods, we must also have a system that allows mistakes. A spokesperson should be responsible and dare to have a voice. The confidence of a spokesperson comes from the support and courage he or she receives from the department he or she serves.
ALyu Dapeng, spokesperson with China Petrochemical Corporation (Sinopec) fter a decade’s operation, the spokesperson system in China has gained influence and changed society in various ways.
And thanks to the spokesperson delivering their message.
Second, China’s spokespersons should have good all-round knowledge and respect the principles of good public relations: respecting the public and responding to questions in a timely and credible manner.
Third, they should release information in a timely manner so as to accurately guide public opinion without exaggeration or shrinking from the truth. In short, they should be the right voice at the right time, delivering the right information in the right way.
Fourth, although the various media channels are a challenge, they are also an opportunity. The challenge is the diversity of media makes greater demands on spokespersons, while the opportunity lies in effectively using the different media to convey information to different audiences— to tell profound truths in popular ways.
The purpose of releasing information is to let people better understand the thoughts and deeds of the Party and the government; to make official decisions seen, heard, participated in and supervised ...’’
system, the public’s opinion of Sinopec has become more positive over the past five years.
I still remember the worst of times, which was in 2012, when 42.6 percent of the annual 5.5 million information releases related to Sinopec was negative, which means 639 news items a day.
After taking a proactive stance to our statements released to the public, the negative information was down to 25.7 percent in 2013, 9.1 percent in 2014, and 8.7 percent in 2015. What we did was threefold. First, we improved our system to guarantee the quality of the spokesperson’s message.
Second, we innovated the way we release information. In the past five years, apart from organizing more than 30 formal news conferences, we’ve also invited industrial experts to give lectures to reporters on a monthly basis, helping them gain more knowledge of what we do. Furthermore, we use social media to get our message across.
The third thing is we release information proactively. Over the past few years, the nearly 40 news conferences we have organized have been well received. In addition, we have also organized branding activities, as we realized that corporate culture is part of a company’s core competitiveness.
As one-third of Sinopec’s business and assets are overseas, we are also actively promoting the spokesperson system abroad.
In 2015, we established a 50-member overseas spokespersons’ team and recruited 82 parttime foreign information staff. The twitter account of Sinopec was launched in August, 2015, and we opened a Facebook account in July.
Jiang Jianguo, minister of the State Council Information Office, delivers a speech at the China Spokespersons Forum in Shanghai on Saturday.