Foreigners in the east China coastal city of Ningbo can now enjoy English news briefings launched by the local government on Wednesday.
Ningbo is a major city in Zhejiang Province.
News released by the local government will be bilingual, in Chinese and English, and be published on an English version homepage on the government's website simultaneously, according to officials from the local government.
Local television and radio programs will also broadcast the English news briefings and the government's spokesmen will reply to questions from foreign media in written form as well.
Up to now, no other cities on the Chinese mainland have carried out such a bilingual news-releasing program.
"This is an important step to improving the publicity of the Ningbo government, attracting more overseas media to cover the great changes here and facilitating foreign residents' understanding of Ningbo," said Yu Danhua, spokesman of the Ningbo municipal government.
Yu said the program would improve Ningbo's image and expand its overseas influence.
Also, the move would promote Ningbo's economic and social development.
According to incomplete statistics, there are about 3,000 foreigners living in Ningbo, with 280,000 foreigners visiting Ningbo for business or travel every year.
"Besides large amounts of foreign residents in Ningbo, our city has attracted hundreds of overseas media to find news stories. Therefore, we should provide sufficient and timely information in English," said Yu.
For foreign companies in Ningbo, which pay special attention to government policies, they can consult the Foreign Affairs Office of the government in writing about policy problems, Yu added.
A foreign student in the city welcomed the bilingual news briefings.
Wiza, 25, an international student from Zambia at Ningbo University, said: "The new program will bring great convenience to my daily life as I can have easy access to fresh government news."
In recent years, the local government has attached great importance to the promotion of an international city image of Ningbo.
In February 2006, the government released the English version of its work report, becoming one of a few cities on the Chinese mainland such as Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen to have English-version government work reports.
Moreover, the government's official website is in five versions: English, German, French, Japanese and Korean.
(China Daily May 12, 2006)