Be more active in voicing our opinions

By Huang Youyi
0 CommentsPrint E-mail, September 16, 2010
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Distinguished Minister Wang Chen; Distinguished ASEAN Ministers; Ladies and gentlemen:

China International Publishing Group where I work and which was founded in 1949 is a professional news and publishing organization with Internet, periodical and book publishing as its main business. For a long time, ASEAN has been one of the focuses of our business development. In my presentation, I will introduce to you what we have been doing in this area and also analyze some figures concerning news reporting on China and ASEAN and share with you my thought on how we should be more active and take the initiative in shaping the public opinion in our area.

At the last 10+1 meeting of information ministers held in Nanning in October 2008, I had the pleasure of meeting media friends from ASEAN countries and I am only too glad to have met new friends at this meeting.

I recall that one of the four proposals put forward by Minister Wang at that meeting was that in shaping international public opinion, we should take the initiative in making our opinions heard so as to safeguard our common interests.

Now two years later, I am sure we all feel this even more strongly. The emphasis of my speech today is that China and ASEAN countries should be more active in getting us heard, play a leading role in public opinion on our regional affairs so as to promote our common interests.

Every year, China International Publishing Group produces more than 3,000 titles of books, some 30 kinds of periodicals and operates over 30 websites. A major part of our coverage is none other than the political and economic affairs, cultural and trade exchanges as well as visits of people between China and ASEAN.

Such magazines as Beijing Review, China Today, China Pictorial, People’s China and China Report cover ASEAN extensively. Since 2009, they have presented readers with more than 200 articles running some 300,000 words along with over 300 pictures. The coverage takes the form of cover stories, interviews, comments and serialized reports, touching on a wide range of topics including political and economic cooperation, regional affairs, culture and tourism.

Taking advantage of the World Expo in Shanghai this year, we are producing a new magazine entitled Expo Weekly in Chinese, English and Japanese. The magazine has so far reported on the pavilions of Thailand, Singapore, Viet Nam, Malaysia and Indonesia, introducing to readers not only the opening but also the theme of these pavilions, the cultural features of these countries and trade relationships between China and ASEAN. So far the report on ASEAN amounts to over 60 articles, 180,000 words and about 100 illustrations. is our news website reporting in over ten languages including English, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Russian and Arabic. It has become a major source of information on China. The website through its multi-language editions has timely covered major events such as the ASEAN summit, meeting of foreign ministers, the 6th China-ASEAN Fair, the forum on China-ASEAN free trade zone and Pan-Beibu Gulf In a period of about two years, reports carried by relating to ASEAN total 16,500 stories, 4,000 illustrations, over 60 video strips and 30 special feature reports each of which contains dozens of articles and many pictures.

Ambassadors to China from Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines have appeared on its “China Talk” program, meeting with Chinese netizens online. Since the opening of the World Expo, officials of pavilions of Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore have accepted interviews of the website.

Our Group operates 7 books publishers in China and another 5 in the United States, Germany, UK, France and Hong Kong and we are proud to be China’s major publishing organization in producing multi-language books and in copyright sales. Books with themes on ASEAN countries have always been a major part of our products. Our reporters have followed Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn on her trip to Tibet by the newly commissioned railway in 2008 and had a beautifully illustrated book produced after the trip.

As a front runner among Chinese publishers in selling books rights overseas, we have, since 2006, sold the rights of 313 books to such ASEAN countries as Viet Nam, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.

We hope to bring more books originated from ASEAN countries to Chinese readers. Ten years ago we produced the Chinese edition of the biography of Lee Kuan Yew and now we are discussing with our Singapore partner on publishing several Singapore books in China. One of the most recent books we’ve published this year is a biography by the Myanmar writer Dr. Htilar Sitthu.

China International Book Trading Corporation, another branch of our Group, is China’s largest importer and exporter of printed matters. It maintains long-term trade relations with ASEAN countries, selling about 300,000 copies of books and periodicals a year.

I also serve as vice president of the Federation of International Translators, vice president and secretary-general of Translators Association of China. In these capacities, I have been involved in organizing Asia Translators Forum every three years. China was the host to the first forum. The fifth forum was held in Bogor, Indonesia, 2007. The sixth one will be held in Macao November this year while the seventh one is to be held in Malaysia 2013.

From contacts with interpreters and translators from ASEAN countries, I am convinced that translation plays an increasingly important role in the China-ASEAN relationship. Interpreters and translators and their associations make use of the forum as a platform to exchange experience and ideas, expand the influence and the increase the voice of Asian translators in the world translation field, thus helping to create favorable public opinions for the economic and social development of countries in the region.

Speaking of the opinion environment in our region, I have some data to share with you. According to research by the Center of International Communication of our Group, mainstream media in the West seems to demonstrate greater interest in emergency events, sensitive issues and problems of negative effect, while they are not that keen on reporting major events of cooperation among China and ASEAN countries, which shows a sharp contrast with the performance of mainstream media in China and ASEAN.

To begin with, media from China and ASEAN show greater interest in and more positive attitude to our bilateral regions and major topics in our region. Their coverage is also much more extensive. For an instance, we found 1,047 news stories in English on the launch of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Zone. Of this figure, 307 were from eight ASEAN countries (not including Laos and Myanmar) and 108 stories from the Chinese media. On the other hand, media in six major Western countries (namely, the US, Britain, France, Canada, Australia and Japan) carried 133 stories which was only 27 percent of the combined figure of China and ASEAN.

Contrast to this, Chinese and ASEAN media are not that eager for emergencies and issues of great sensitivity and negative effect that take place in China and ASEAN, whereas Western media are much more active in their reports. For example, during the event when Hong Kong tourists were held hostage in the Philippines last month, the world media carried 633 articles in English and 377 of them came from the media in the six Western countries. The stories about the instant from eight ASEAN nations and China were respectively 78 and 70. Just imagine, reports over an isolated tragedy by six Western countries far outnumbered those by countries in the region!

These simple figures demonstrate that it is us, people in the region, who are more concerned with our regional development. And it is our own media that are more active in helping to create public opinions favorable to our cooperation.

There are great potentials and promising prospects for China-ASEAN cooperation. Public opinion in the region should not be shaped by media in Western countries. To be sure, compared with developed countries in the West, China and ASEAN are at a less advantageous economic position and this is particularly true in news reporting. Precisely this situation calls for strengthened cooperation among us, and more active actions so that we hold the initiative in the building of public opinion in the region.

Development of China-ASEAN should be conducted by ourselves and the opinion environment in our region should be built and safeguarded by ourselves too. Media in our region shoulder great responsibility.

Our reports should be objective and accurately reflect the development status in the region; we should be more active in voice our opinions, express people’s demands and wishes and report on local interests. We should stay firm in preserving cultural traditions unique to our region. We should strengthen cooperation in making our opinions voiced and be heard.

Ladies and gentlemen, we at China International Publishing Group are willing to work together with news and publishing organizations in ASEAN countries, in such areas as exchange contents and pictures, exchange of visits by the staff, training and internship, making use of the Internet and various forms of the E media, distribution of books and magazines and related cultural products. We should aim for a more practical cooperative mechanism, and conduct more frequent and systematic dialogues and forums. These may include visits of young journalists and editors, dialogues among same category media and building a multi-language China-ASEAN website of news and information. In short, we should take concrete actions, make greater efforts to make voices from Asia heard more frequently and extensively.

We welcome you to visit and be our guests at China International Publishing Group.

Thank you all.

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