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Media openness improves after China's reform, openning up
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Media openness in China has improved after the country adopted the reform and opening-up policy 30 years ago, which facilitated communication between Chinese people and people in other countries, a commentator from a leading Japanese newspaper said.

"Significant changes have taken place in Japanese media's coverage on China since the reform and opening-up," Tomoyoshi Isogawa, commentator of Japan's Asahi Shimbun, told Xinhua in a recent interview.

Isogawa, who has spent a decade working and studying in China, recalled that during the Cold War period, Japanese media usually focused their coverage on the Chinese government and the leaders' movements.

"But now their vision has expanded to every aspect of China, including economy, society, culture and sports," he said.

According to Isogawa, Asahi Shimbun had only one correspondent in China 30 years ago. But it has eight people now based in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenyang and Hong Kong.

Isogawa, a longtime witness to the changes in China, has more personal experiences than many others.

"During my first assignment starting in 1992, I was extremely enthusiastic and wrote a lot of reports about China. However, only a small portion of them get published."

"Gradually, I found more and more stories got my editors interested. By the end of my assignment in 1996, I was not worried any more. Because whatever I wrote, the newspaper would surely use it," he said.

Increased media freedom over the years also made ordinary Chinese more accessible by foreign press, Isogawa said.

"When I was in Beijing to cover the 1990 Asian Games, it was still unusual for an ordinary Chinese to answer questions from a foreign journalist," he recalled.

Isogawa said he remembered there was a time when he interviewed a man in Beijing's Silk Market, people got crowded up and stared at him curiously.

"But now, people are quite familiar with foreign media and they can say whatever they want."

Such media openness is further proved by the media coverage of two major earthquakes, the Tangshan earthquake in 1976 and Wenchuan earthquake in May this year.

"Media reported the Wenchuan earthquake instantly and the Chinese government updated information on the disaster timely and accurately, which is in stark contrast with the situation in 1976."

As to Sino-Japanese relations, Isogawa said reform and opening-up have not only helped Chinese people understand Japan after World War II, it also helped Japanese people know more about a new China.

"I expect China to deepen reforms in every aspects, not only economic reform, but also reforms in legislation, administration and media," he said.

(Xinhua News Agency December 15, 2008)

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