It looks as though at least 15 Shanghai journalists will be heading to the Middle East to cover the impending war in Iraq.
Visa applications have been made to embassies in Beijing by five reporters with Shanghai Television, an equal number of reporters with Orient Television, three from Eastday.com, one from Radio Shanghai and one from East Radio.
Their destinations vary from Iraq and Qatar to Jordan and Iran.
"I will leave as soon as the visa is issued. It could be in days," said Lu Wei with OTV, "It could be very dangerous. But it is important to cover this war and that consideration far outweighs the potential risks." Lu said his destination is Baghdad.
While waiting for visas, all the reporters are busy making necessary preparations.
According to a checklist prepared by the Shanghai Media Group, which groups the city's TV and radio stations, the war reporters are asked to stock up with medicines, apply for a credit card for international settlement, buy insurance and prepare name cards in English and Arabian, among other things.
The group also suggests that its reporters should talk to the city's police and army to get helmets, gas masks and flak jackets for their personal protection.
"I am also asking my Arab friends for some basic 'survive Arabia language' tips in case of an emergency," Lu added.
China is preparing to send up to 100 correspondents to cover the impending war in the Middle East, according to China News Service.
From the Gulf War 12 years ago to the wars in Kosovo and Afghanistan, media outlets in China had relied mainly on reports supplied by foreign media.
The new approach to covering international conflicts will, it is believed, reduce China's dependence on reports from other international media and also reflect heightened media competition in the country, experts said.
Dou hui, a professor of International Politics at Shanghai International Studies University, also pointed out that people are more interested in international events.
(eastday.com February 15, 2003)