Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said in Tianjin on Tuesday that the government will consider foreign media applications requesting to post resident correspondents in more Chinese cities.
Liu said that the government had received applications from foreign news organizations to establish resident branches or journalists in cities other than the five currently allowed.
"China will be more open to foreign media and welcomes more foreign journalists into China," Liu told a forum on media cooperation among the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Japan, South Korea and China additionally attended the forum on Tuesday.
"We will study the applications in a comprehensive and a positive way," said Liu at the forum in Tianjin.
Liu, who is also director-general of the ministry's Information Department, stated, "The conditions for foreign journalists to gather news inside China have been improving, especially since the start of the year."
He was referring to the Regulations on Reporting Activities in China by Foreign Journalists during the Beijing Olympic Games and the Preparatory Period, which took effect on Jan. 1.
The regulations lifted internal travel restrictions on foreign journalists and allowed them to interview anyone as long as the interviewee gave permission.
"The regulations were warmly welcomed by the international community and the foreign media. China's opening to foreign media will continue after the Beijing Olympic Games," said Liu.
Currently, foreign media organizations are allowed to establish resident representation in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chongqing and Shenyang.
The two-day forum stemmed from a proposal put forward by Premier Wen Jiabao at the 10th ASEAN plus Three (Japan, South Korea and China) Summit in the Philippines in January. More than 100 journalism professionals attended the forum. They represented more than 30 mass media organizations in ASEAN and Japan, South Korea and China.
There has been a sharp increase in foreign media presence, from 606 resident foreign correspondents from 315 organization based in 49 countries in China since the year's start to 705 from 351 media organizations based in 53 countries. 2,060 foreign journalists came to China on reporting tours.
(Xinhua News Agency August 23, 2007)