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Gov't News Briefings Reformed In 2007
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The Chinese government will reform its news briefing system next year, said a senior official with the State Council Information Office (SCIO) on Tuesday.


The SCIO encourages more government departments to release news independently, with four or five ministries expected to hold regular press conferences next year, said Cai Wu, director of the SCIO at an annual function.



Currently, departments such as the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Public Security hold routine weekly or monthly press conferences.


According to Cai, the SCIO will continue to present China's economic and social growth and explain the Chinese government's viewpoints and principles on key international issues to the world.


2007 will witness the opening of the 17th national congress of the Communist Party of China and further preparations for the Beijing Olympic Games.


"The SCIO will continue to improve services to the media both at home and abroad in 2007," Cai said, noting government press conferences are a crucial means of "protecting the public's right to know" and "guaranteeing the democracy of the Chinese political system."


Around 300 diplomatic envoys, overseas media representatives, Chinese officials and news spokespersons attended the function.



Muhammad Iftikhar Raja, press and cultural counselor with the Pakistan Embassy to China, has only attended one press conference given by the SCIO.


"The professionalism of the Chinese spokesman impressed me. With China increasingly involved in the international community, regular information briefings are essential," said the counselor.


Alexandre S. Isaev, Beijing bureau chief of ITAR-TASS, the Russian news agency, suggested the SCIO give press conferences in more foreign languages such as Russian.


"Because more and more Russian people want to hear China's voice," Isaev said.


The SCIO sponsored 58 press conferences in 2005, the highest number since the creation of the government news briefing mechanism.


China's governmental news release system was initiated in 1983 by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Statistics released by the State Council Information Office show that over 70 central government departments have established news release and spokesperson systems.



(Xinhua News Agency December 20, 2006)

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