Me­dia must bet­ter project China’s im­age abroad

China Daily (USA) - - VIEWS -

China is play­ing a piv­otal role in re­form­ing the world or­der. It is al­ready the world’s largest trader of goods and the se­cond-largest econ­omy and, if its growth mo­men­tum con­tin­ues, it will over­take the United States in the fore­see­able fu­ture to be­come the largest econ­omy.

For the wider world, China has been pro­vid­ing pub­lic goods, in­clud­ing through chan­nels such as the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive and the Asian In­fra­struc­ture In­vest­ment Bank. And its vi­sion of building a com­mu­nity with a shared fu­ture for mankind has won recog­ni­tion across the world. There is lit­tle doubt, as such, that China is tak­ing ini­tia­tives to in­flu­ence the rules of the game that were mostly set by the West.

Within China, so­cial­ism with Chinese char­ac­ter­is­tics has en­tered a new era, and the Com­mu­nist Party of China with over 89 million mem­bers has made unswerv­ing ef­forts to main­tain its pu­rity and grow stronger. Un­der the lead­er­ship of the Party with Xi Jin­ping as its core, nearly 90 million peo­ple have been lifted out of poverty since 2012. And given that the strictest en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion sys­tem has been put in place, there is a so­cial con­sen­sus that the en­vi­ron­ment should be cher­ished and pro­tected. Be­sides, in­no­va­tion, tech­nol­ogy and con­sump­tion have re­placed in­vest­ment and trade to be­come the main driv­ers for eco­nomic growth.

The challenge now for China is to make the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity un­der­stand the im­por­tance of these changes in or­der to deepen mu­tual trust and avoid strate­gic mis­in­ter­pre­ta­tions, so that more coun­tries can ben­e­fit from its fast-paced de­vel­op­ment.

The rise of so­cial me­dia and the re­form and stream­lin­ing of the Chinese me­dia — for in­stance, the es­tab­lish­ment of China Global Tele­vi­sion Net­work in late 2016, and the merger of China Cen­tral Tele­vi­sion, China Ra­dio In­ter­na­tional and China Na­tional Ra­dio to form the Voice of China ear­lier this year — have pro­vided China with more ef­fi­cient plat­forms and chan­nels to tell its sto­ries.

As a re­sult, peo­ple in other coun­tries now have bet­ter ac­cess- es to in­for­ma­tion about China, and more for­eign re­porters and edi­tors have been em­ployed to tell China’s sto­ries around the world.

Since be­com­ing China’s top leader, Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping has at­tached great im­por­tance to the cause of in­ter­na­tional com­mu­ni­ca­tion and peo­ple-to-peo­ple ex­changes, for he knows friend­ship and mu­tual un­der­stand­ing be­tween peo­ples of dif­fer­ent coun­tries is the foun­da­tion of good coun­try-to-coun­try re­la­tions.

And as the in­ter­net has blurred the bound­ary be­tween do­mes­tic and global com­mu­ni­ca­tion, the ob­jec­tive and com­pre­hen­sive pro­jec­tion of China’s im­age abroad will also gen­er­ate pos­i­tive ef­fects at home, and thus boost Chinese peo­ple’s con­fi­dence. As for some im­por­tant topics, such as the trade dis­putes with the United States, ex­cept for the lan­guage, the con­tents and other as­pects of Chinese me­dia’s re­ports tar­geted at for­eign­ers and Chinese na­tion­als are al­most sim­i­lar.

Xi has con­ducted sev­eral me­dia tours, em­pha­siz­ing that all Chinese me­dia out­lets prop­erly guide pub­lic opin­ion by “singing the main theme, trans­mit­ting pos­i­tive en­ergy”. Ef­fec­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tion can help cre­ate a fa­vor­able pub­lic at­mos­phere both at home and abroad, which is im­por­tant at a time when China is try­ing to ex­pand its in­flu­ence over­seas.

Xi also pointed out that at present, the sound of in­ter­na­tional pub­lic opin­ion has a “higher vol­ume in the West than in the East”, and the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­ni­ca­tion abil­ity of the Chinese me­dia out­lets is not strong enough. As a re­sult, ma­jor Western me­dia out­lets still con­trol the world pub­lic opin­ion.

China has in­creased its in­put into the me­dia to im­prove their global com­mu­ni­ca­tion abil­ity, which is cru­cial for re­al­iz­ing the Chinese Dream by the mid­dle of this cen­tury. And as Xi said, China should con­tinue to make ef­forts to ex­pand and im­prove its in­ter­na­tional com­mu­ni­ca­tion abil­ity so that the in­flu­ence of its soft power is pro­por­tion­ate to the size of its econ­omy. The au­thor is a pro­fes­sor of me­dia stud­ies at Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Univer­sity of China.

MA XUEJING / CHINA DAILY

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