Media leaders from 16 overseas Chinese-language newspapers yesterday pledged stronger co-operation to drive their development to meet a growing demand for information about China across the globe.
They also called for the wider presence of Chinese language media abroad to strengthen China's image in a balanced way and strengthen its relations with other countries.
The call came at a three-day international seminar on Chinese-language media, which opened yesterday in Beijing.
The event, organized by Hong Kong-based Wen Wei Po, was attended by dozens of owners and managers of Chinese language newspapers from the United States, Canada, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines and Myanmar.
Ted Sioeng, chairman of the International Daily Newspaper Group, said the world is keeping an eye on China, given its fast political, economic and cultural progress over the past two decades.
Besides its political strength, China has also begun to play a bigger economic role as the world's seventh largest economy following its entry into the World Trade Organization in December 2001.
Statistics from the Ministry of Education suggest that more than 30 million people from outside China are studying Chinese amid a worldwide mania about the Chinese economy and culture.
Meanwhile, the increasing number of Chinese visitors and laborers abroad as well as expanding overseas Chinese communities have also generated a higher demand for Chinese media.
At present, Chinese language media abroad include 500 newspapers, 200 magazines, 70 radio stations and 50 television stations.
Some of them have developed into mainstream media in their countries, promoting unity among overseas Chinese while contributing to local social and economic development.
These overseas Chinese-language media also serve as a bridge between foreign countries and China.
However, overseas Chinese-language media are still weak, compared with dominant English-language media, said Zhang Guoliang, president of Wen Wei Po.
In a keynote speech, he said English language and Chinese language content respectively accounts for 80 per cent of and 0.4 per cent of the world's total media content.
The situation "is incompatible with the fact that the Chinese population (of 1.3 billion) makes up for a fifth of the world's total population and there are more than 30 million overseas Chinese in the world," Zhang said.
What's worse, he added, distorted reports about China by some Western media have not only damaged the country's international image but also hurt the dignity of overseas Chinese.
"So overseas Chinese language media should play a positive role in promoting a better understanding about China and improving relations between China and the outside world," Zhang told the seminar.
(China Daily December 10, 2004)