China media should boost party image, official says
November 9th, 2009 - 11:36 UTC
by Andy Sennitt.

A top Communist party official in China has urged the country’s state media to expand its footprint overseas and called on journalists to do more to burnish the image of the nation’s leaders. In a speech on Sunday to mark Journalists’ Day, Li Changchun - who is seen as the country’s propaganda and ideology chief - praised Chinese reporters for “strengthening and improving” the party’s control over the flow of news. “You have supported the party’s management of the media … and ensured that the power to lead news and propaganda has remained firmly in the hand of the party,” he said in the speech carried by the leading People’s Daily.

The 66-year-old Li, who is number five in China’s leadership hierarchy, said media outlets should work harder to expand their reach outside China and better publicise the nation’s rising political and economic clout. “We must strengthen our exchanges and cooperation with overseas media in news broadcasts, human resources, information technology and industry development and use these platforms… to transmit China’s position and voice and expand the international influence of our news and propaganda,” he said.

In recent years, state-run China Central Television has expanded its operations to include channels in Russian, Arabic, Spanish and French, to go with its overseas Chinese-language broadcasts and English network. The government has earmarked 45 billion yuan (6.5 billion dollars) to fund the expansion of groups including Xinhua, CCTV and CRI radio, according to Hong Kong media reports.

Several key newspapers have also launched English-language editions, and government agencies such as the defence ministry have created English versions of their websites. Mr Li urged the state media to continue to adhere to the edicts of the party and bolster its image at home. “We must better boost the confidence of the people in the party and government,” he said. “Building a bridge between the party and people by understanding social conditions and public views and guiding (public opinion on) hot social issues is the core task of news and propaganda work.”