If you cannot stop the mounting wave of information, it is better to get along with it.
The Xinhua News Agency and the newspaper People’s Daily are launching innovative media tools. The former is the agency of the Party since 1931, when it started underground. The latter is the official mouthpiece of the CPC. You can hardly imagine these two organs to be at the forefront of modernity in communication. Still, latest events proved the opposite.
Xinhua has inaugurated the first non-stop channel to broadcast news only in English: China Xinhua News Network, CNC. After Asia, the transmission will be seen in the rest of the world starting from October. It is a business investment, where the state-owned agency holds only 51% of equity, the rest being distributed among private investors. It aims to compete with the major networks and the internationally acclaimed news agencies. Its initial two billion yuan commitment will be coupled with the luxurious office of CNC, located in the heart of Manhattan in New York.
While the competitors face stiff constraints because of falling revenues, CNC will invest heavily. Its ambition is adamant in the words of his President Li Congjun: “CNC will present an international vision with a Chinese perspective. It will broadcast news reports in a timely and objective way and be a new source of information for global audiences”.
To dismantle the perception of manipulation of information and propaganda surrounding China is its strategic target. China wants to be considered as peaceful, firm and friendly nation, whose growth is beneficial to all. More balanced, moderate and pluralistic information will be extremely helpful.
At home a similar approach is under testing, even if at an initial stage. People’s Daily now hosts a website where netizens can send messages to the Party’s General Secretary Hu Jintao or to the Politburo inner circle. The move wants to give freedom to complaints or even criticism if something is perceived wrong or unfair. It is within the effort to get rulers closer to the people.
The net is a tool, like a new type of journalism. A more independent kind of investigation is not only tolerated but also encouraged. Now it is impossible to deny or disguise the reality. Four hundred million navigators will not stand it. In the effort to discover irregularities and to punish who are responsible, the government carefully reads reports from remote areas where arrogance and abuse have been often neglected. The message appears clear: if you cannot stop the mounting wave of information, it is better to get along with it.