Xinhua News Agency

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Xinhua News Agency
新华通讯社
Type Broadcast radio, television and online
Country China
Founded 1931; 87 years ago (1931)
Slogan “新华社要把世界管起来,让全世界都能听到中国发出的声音。”(English: "Xinhua News Agency should manage the world, so that the whole world can hear the voice of China".
Broadcast area
Mainland China, Satellite, Internet
Area Worldwide
Owner People's Republic of China (state-owned institution)
Key people

Cai Mingzhao
(President)
He Ping
(Editor-in-chief)

Liu Zhengrong
(Party Secretary)
Former names
Red China News Agency (1931–1937)
Affiliation State Council of the People's Republic of China
Affiliates Reference News
Xinhuanet.com
CNC World
Official website
www.news.cn/english (in English)
Xinhua News Agency
Simplified Chinese 新华通讯社
Traditional Chinese 新華通訊社
Literal meaning New China News Agency
Abbreviated name
Simplified Chinese 新华社
Traditional Chinese 新華社
Literal meaning New China Agency
This article is part of a series on the
Politics of China
National Emblem of the People's Republic of China (2).svg

Xinhua News Agency (English pronunciation: /ˌʃɪnˈhwɑː/[1]) or New China News Agency is the official state-run press agency of the People's Republic of China. Xinhua is the biggest and most influential media organization in China, as well as the largest news agency in the world in terms of correspondents worldwide.[2] Xinhua is a ministry-level institution subordinate to the Chinese central government, and is the highest ranking state media organ in the country alongside the People's Daily. Its president is a member of the Central Committee of China's Communist Party.

Xinhua operates more than 170 foreign bureaux worldwide, and maintains 31 bureaux in China—one for each province, autonomous region and directly-administered municipality plus a military bureau. Xinhua is the sole channel for the distribution of important news related to the Communist Party and Chinese central government, and its headquarters in Beijing are strategically located within close proximity to Zhongnanhai, which houses the headquarters of the Communist Party of China, the State Council and the office of the President of the People's Republic of China.

Xinhua is a publisher as well as a news agency—it owns more than 20 newspapers and a dozen magazines, and it publishes in several languages, besides Chinese, including English, German, Spanish, French, Russian, Portuguese, Arabic, Japanese and Korean, also publishing in cyberspace.

History[edit]

Xinhua was founded in November 1931 as the Red China News Agency and changed to its current name in 1937.[3] During the Pacific War the agency developed overseas broadcasting capabilities and established its first overseas branches.[3] It began broadcasting to foreign countries in English from 1944. Following the conclusion of the Chinese Civil War, the agency represented the People's Republic of China in countries and territories with which it had no diplomatic representation, such as Hong Kong.[3]

The agency was described by media scholars as the "eyes and tongue" of the Party, observing what is important for the masses and passing on the information.[4] A former Xinhua director, Zheng Tao, noted that the agency was a bridge between the Party, the government and the people, communicating both the demands of the people and the policies of the Party.[5] People's Daily, for example, uses Xinhua material for about a quarter of its stories.

Reach[edit]

Xinhua delivers its news across the world in eight languages: Chinese, English, Spanish, French, Russian, Portuguese, Arabic, and Japanese, as well as news pictures and other kinds of news. It has made contracts to exchange news and news pictures with more than eighty foreign news agencies or political news departments. Xinhua is also responsible for handling, and in some cases, censoring reports from foreign media destined for release in China.[6] By 2010, the agency had begun converging its news and electronic media coverage and increasing its English coverage through its wire service. Xinhua acquired commercial real estate on New York's Times Square and is developing its English-language reporting staff. Xinhua has also started an English-language satellite news network.[7]

Internal media[edit]

The Chinese media's internal publication system, in which certain journals are published exclusively for government and party officials, provides information and analysis which are not generally available to the public. The State values these internal reports because they contain much of China's most sensitive, controversial, and high-quality investigative journalism.

Xinhua produces reports for the "internal" journals. Informed observers note that journalists generally like to write for the internal publications because they can write less polemical and more comprehensive stories without making the omissions of unwelcome details commonly made in the media directed to the general public. The internal reports, written from a large number of countries, typically consist of in-depth analyses of international situations and domestic attitudes towards regional issues and perceptions of China.[8]

The Chinese government's internal media publication system follows a strict hierarchical pattern designed to facilitate party control. A publication called Reference News—which includes translated articles from abroad as well as news and commentary by Xinhua reporters—is delivered by Xinhua personnel, rather than by the national mail system, to officials at the working level and above. A three-to-ten-page report called Internal Reference (Neibu Cankao) is distributed to officials at the ministerial level and higher. One example was the first reports on the SARS outbreak by Xinhua which only government officials were allowed to see.[9] The most classified Xinhua internal reports are issued to the top dozen or so party and government officials.[10]

Headquarters and regional sectors[edit]

The Xinhua headquarters is located in Beijing, strategically located within close proximity to Zhongnanhai, which houses the headquarters of the Communist Party of China, the State Council and the office of the President of the People's Republic of China.. The Xinhua News Agency established its first overseas affiliate in 1947 in London, with Samuel Chinque as publisher. Now it distributes its news in Asia, Middle East, Latin America, Africa through more than 150 affiliates,[11] with regional headquarters in Hong Kong, Moscow, Cairo, Brussels, New York City, Mexico City and Nairobi, plus a United Nations bureau.[12]

Hong Kong[edit]

Xinhua's branch in Hong Kong was not just a press office, but served as the de facto embassy of the PRC in the territory when it was under British administration. It was named a news agency under the special historic conditions before the territory's sovereignty was transferred from Britain to China, because the People's Republic did not recognise British sovereignty over the colony, and could not set up a consulate on what it considered to be its soil.[13]

Despite its unofficial status, the directors of the Xinhua Hong Kong Branch included high-ranking former diplomats such as Zhou Nan, former Ambassador to the United Nations and Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs, who later negotiated the Sino-British Joint Declaration on the future of Hong Kong.[14] His predecessor, Xu Jiatun, was also vice-chairman of the Hong Kong Basic Law Drafting Committee, before fleeing to the United States in response to the military crackdown on the Tiananmen Square protests, where he went into exile.[15]

It was authorized by the special administrative region government to continue to represent the central government after 1997, and it was renamed "The Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong SAR" on January 18, 2000, retaining branch chief Jiang Enzhu as inaugural director.[16] The State Council appointed Gao Siren (高祀仁) as the director in August 2002. After the Liaison Office was established, Xinhua Agency was reconstituted as a bona fide press office.

Cairo[edit]

Xinhua opened its Middle East Regional Bureau in Cairo, Egypt in 1985. In November 2005, Xinhua News Agency opened a new office building alongside the Nile River in Cairo's Maadi district.[17]

Vientiane[edit]

Xinhua opened a bureau in Vientiane, the capital of Laos, in 2010. It is the only foreign news bureau permitted to permanently operate in the country.

Controversies[edit]

Overview[edit]

Bias & political correctness[edit]

Both foreign and domestic anti-government critics have routinely criticized Xinhua for its political correctness and favorable portrayal of China's state policies. In 2005, Reporters Sans Frontieres called Xinhua "The World's Biggest Propaganda Machine", pointing out that Xinhua's president held the rank of a minister in the government. The report further stated that the news agency was “at the heart of censorship and disinformation put in place” by the government.[18][19]

There have been calls for Xinhua to register as a foreign agent under the Foreign Agents Registration Act in US.[20]

In a 2007 interview with the Times of India, then Xinhua president Tian Congming affirmed the problem of "historical setbacks and popular perceptions".[21] Newsweek criticized Xinhua as "being best known for its blind spots" regarding controversial news in China, although the article acknowledges that "Xinhua's spin diminishes when the news doesn't involve China".[22]

During the 2003 SARS outbreak, Xinhua was slow to release reports of the incident to the public. However, its reporting in the aftermath of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake was seen as more transparent and credible as Xinhua journalists operated more freely.[23][24] After the Beijing Television Cultural Center fire, cognizant of Xinhua's "tardy" reporting in contrast to bloggers, China announced the investment of 20 billion yuan to Xinhua. The vice president of the China International Publishing Group commented on this, saying that quantity of media exposure would not necessarily help perceptions of China. Rather, he said, media should focus on emphasizing Chinese culture and the Chinese way of life "to convey the message that China is a friend, not an enemy".[25]

Xinhua for its own part has criticized foreign media bias and inaccurate reporting, citing an incident during the 2008 Tibetan unrest when Western media outlets used scenes of Nepalese police arresting Tibetan protesters as evidence of Chinese police brutality[26] with commentary from CNN's Jack Cafferty calling the Chinese "goons and thugs". CNN later apologized for the comments,[27] but Richard Spencer of The Sunday Telegraph defended what he conceded was "biased" Western media coverage of the riots, blaming Chinese authorities for not allowing foreign media access to Tibet during the conflict.[28]

Historical events[edit]

1989 student movement[edit]

Xinhua staff struggled to find the "right line" to use in covering the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. Although more cautious than People's Daily in its treatment of sensitive topics during that period – such as how to commemorate reformist Communist Party leader Hu Yaobang's April 1989 death and then ongoing demonstrations in Beijing and elsewhere – Xinhua gave some favorable coverage to demonstrators and intellectuals supportive of the movement. Conflict between journalists and top editors over the censorship of stories about the Tiananmen Square crackdown lasted for several days after the military's dispersal of demonstrators on June 4, with some journalists going on strike and demonstrating inside the agency's Beijing headquarters. Government oversight of the media increased after the protests – top editors at the agency's bureaux in Hong Kong and Macau were replaced with appointees who were pro-Beijing.[29]

2011 Bob Dechert emails[edit]

In 2011, CBC reported on leaked "flirtatious" emails sent by Canada's Conservative MP and parliamentary secretary to the minister of justice Bob Dechert to married Xinhua Toronto correspondent Shi Rong, which prompted both sexual harassment and security breach allegations from opposition members. Dechert apologized, while the Chinese embassy in Ottawa responded to the matter by saying that is "in no position to comment on domestic disputes and privacy of those involved."[30]

2012 Mark Bourrie resignation[edit]

In 2012, Xinhua's Ottawa correspondent Mark Bourrie resigned after Ottawa bureau chief Zhang Dacheng allegedly requested him to report on the Dalai Lama for Xinhua's internal media, which Bourrie felt amounted to gathering intelligence for a foreign power.[31][32] Zhang denied the allegation, telling the Canadian Press that Xinhua's policy is to "cover public events by public means" and his bureau's job is to cover news events and file the stories to Xinhua's editing rooms, who would then decide which stories would be published.[33] Bourrie, who had a press pass providing him access to the Parliament of Canada, had previously tried to consult the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) in 2009 on the matter of writing for Xinhua, but was ignored by CSIS.[34]

2014 Song Bin suicide[edit]

On 7 pm, 28 April 2014, vice-president and chief editor of Xinhua's Anhui provincial branch Song Bin was found dead in the newsroom in an apparent suicide. The author for some award-winning reports on social and economic issues, the senior editor had been battling depression before ending his own life by hanging himself.[35]

2017 Doklam standoff[edit]

During the 2017 China–India border standoff, Xinhua's English-language new media program "The Spark" released a satirical video named the "Seven Sins of India" on 16 August 2017, where presenter Di'er Wang spoke of Indians having "thick skin" and "pretending to sleep" on the matter of the border dispute. Wang went on to claim India was physically threatening Bhutan, and compared India to a "robber who breaks into a house and does not leave". An actor in the video portraying "India" with a turban, beard and accent sparked allegations of racism. The video has received strong backlash on Twitter as well as from Indian and Western media.[36][37][38][39][40]

2018 Devumi allegations[edit]

In January 2018, The New York Times published an investigative report on social media promotions, alleging that the US-based company Devumi was providing "Twitter followers and retweets to celebrities, businesses and anyone who wants to appear more popular or exert influence online." [41] The article goes on to allege an unnamed Xinhua editor was among the many celebrities and organizations implicated in a transaction with Devumi, in which the company boosted the news agency's English-language Twitter account with followers and retweets.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ J. C. Wells: Longman Pronunciation Dictionary, 3rd ed., for both British and American English
  2. ^ International Media and Newspapers (2017-10-30). "Top 200 News Agencies Worldwide". Retrieved 2017-10-30. 
  3. ^ a b c Pares, Susan. (2005). A political and economic dictionary of East Asia. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-85743-258-9
  4. ^ Malek, Abbas & Kavoori, Ananadam. (1999). The global dynamics of news: studies in international news coverage and news agenda. p. 346. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 978-1-56750-462-0
  5. ^ Markham, James. (1967) Voices of the Red Giants. Ames, IA: Iowa State University Press.
  6. ^ Charles Glasser. (2009). International Libel and Privacy Handbook: A Global Reference for Journalists, Publishers, Webmasters, and Lawyers. Bloomberg Press. ISBN 978-1-57660-324-6
  7. ^ Troianovski, Anton (June 30, 2010). "China Agency Nears Times Square". The Wall Street Journal. 
  8. ^ Lampton, David (2001). The Making of Chinese Foreign and Security Policy in the Era of Reform, 1978–2000: 1978–2000. Stanford University Press. ISBN 978-0-8047-4056-2
  9. ^ The Economist, "Chinese whispers: Not believing what they read in the papers, China’s leaders commission their own ", June 19, 2010, p. 43.
  10. ^ 解密中国特色的“内参”:直抵政治局 能量巨大. Sohu.
  11. ^ Hong, Junhao 2011: From the World's Largest Propaganda Machine to a Multipurposed Global News Agency: Factors in and Implications of Xinhua's Transformation Since 1978 04 Aug 2011
  12. ^ Baidu Baike (2017-10-30). "Regional Headquarters of Xinhua". Retrieved 2017-10-30. 
  13. ^ The Long History of United Front Activity in Hong Kong, Hong Kong Journal, Cindy Yik-yi Chu, July 2011
  14. ^ 'Poet diplomat' Zhou Nan takes aim at Occupy Central, South China Morning Post, 16 June 2014
  15. ^ China's ex-proxy in Hong Kong fired for 'betrayal', UPI, February 22, 1991
  16. ^ "Jiang Enzhu on Renaming Xinhua Hong Kong Branch". People's Daily Online. Beijing: Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. January 17, 2000. Retrieved 15 May 2017. 
  17. ^ New office building of Xinhua Middle East regional bureau opens in Cairo 2005/11/26
  18. ^ Battistella, Gautier (October 2005). "Xinhua News Agency Report" (PDF). RSF – via Reporters Without Borders. 
  19. ^ "Xinhua, China's news agency and 'propaganda tool'". www.hindustantimes.com/. 2016-07-25. Retrieved 2017-08-17. 
  20. ^ Brunnstrom, David (November 15, 2017). "U.S. Congress urged to require Chinese journalists to register as agents". Reuters. Retrieved 1 September 2018. 
  21. ^ Q&A: 'Our credibility is doubted to a certain degree', Times of India, September 28, 2007.
  22. ^ Fish, Isaac Stone; Dokoupil, Tony (September 3, 2010). "Is China's Xinhua the Future of Journalism?". Newsweek. Retrieved September 5, 2010. 
  23. ^ Quake coverage 'testing China's media credibility', Radio Australia, May 16, 2008
  24. ^ Quake Moves Xinhua Past Propaganda, Newser, May 13, 2008
  25. ^ China to spend billions to boost media credibility Archived June 3, 2009, at the Wayback Machine., Radio86, March 10, 2009
  26. ^ Commentary: Biased Media Reports Reveal Credibility Crisis, Xinhua, March 26, 2008
  27. ^ Barboza, David (May 16, 2008). "China: CNN Apologizes Over Tibet Comments". New York Times. 
  28. ^ Spencer, Richard (March 28, 2008). "Bias over Tibet cuts both ways". London, England: The Sunday Telegraph. Retrieved September 5, 2010. 
  29. ^ Li, Jinquan & Lee, Chin-Chuan. (2000). Power, Money, and Media: Communication Patterns and Bureaucratic Control in Cultural China. p. 298. Northwestern University Press. ISBN 978-0-8101-1787-7
  30. ^ Kemp, Brian. "Xinhua under the microscope: The Dechert case". CBC News'. 
  31. ^ Carlson, Kathryn Blaze (22 August 2012). "China's state-run news agency being used to monitor critics in Canada: reporter". National Post. 
  32. ^ The Canadian Press (22 August 2012). "Reporter says Chinese news agency asked him to spy". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 22 August 2012. 
  33. ^ Blanchfield, Mike. "Mark Bourrie: Xinhua, Chinese News Agency, Tried To Get Me To Spy". Huffington Post. 
  34. ^ Bourrie, Mark. "THE EX FILES: Journalist Mark Bourrie's behind-the-scenes account of his two years in the employ of Xinhua". Ottawa Magazine. 
  35. ^ Wu, Nan. "Xinhua editor found dead inside newsroom in apparent suicide". South China Morning Post". 
  36. ^ "7 Sins of India: China's bizarre video attack over border dispute". NewsComAu. Retrieved 2017-08-17. 
  37. ^ "Chinese media mocks India with racist video on Doklam standoff". Retrieved 2017-08-17. 
  38. ^ Linder, Alex. "WATCH: Xinhua attacks India with racist propaganda video on Doklam border dispute". Shanghaiist. Retrieved 2017-08-17. 
  39. ^ Chandran, Nyshka (2017-08-17). "Chinese media Xinhua mocks Indians and PM Narendra Modi's policies in racist video". Retrieved 2017-08-17. 
  40. ^ https://www.cnbc.com/2017/08/17/chinese-media-xinhua-mocks-indians-and-pm-narendra-modis-policies-in-racist-video.html
  41. ^ "The Follower Factory". New York Times. January 27, 2018. 

External links[edit]