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Spokesmen examine role in China's image

Updated: 2016-11-07 08:04
By Wang Ying in Shanghai (China Daily)

A group of leading government spokesmen and spokeswomen exchanged their views on how to tell China's story in a positive way to the world, during the nation's first forum organized for professionals in official communication roles on Saturday.

More than 80 spokesmen and spokeswomen, experts, scholars and heads of media gathered in Shanghai to share their opinions on news publishing. Topics included new media, guiding public opinion when hot issues arise and creating a positive national image as Chinese companies expand globally.

China's spokesman system can be traced to the early 1980s. After more than three decades of development, it has become a witness, participant, facilitator and contributor in China's reform, opening-up and modernization, according to Jiang Jianguo, minister of the State Council Information Office.

Spokesmen examine role in China's image

The news publishing industry is based on China's reforms, opening-up and modernization, Jiang said, so the industry has distinctive Chinese characteristics. He also said that a competent spokesman or spokeswoman should be confident, good at establishing topics, have a good sense of timing and be capable of using all media.

Spokespersons, along with scholars from different sectors, shared their views about how an official speaker should deal with hot issues that arise from time to time in society.

Yang Yujun, spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense, likened a sensitive topic to a time bomb, saying that if you don't defuse it the bomb will go off.

Attendees agreed that an effective spokesperson should be a good storyteller, and a confident and responsible coordinator.

Zhao Chenxin, spokesman for the National Development and Reform Commission, said past experience shows that people-centered stories with strong, relevant content will have better effect and make a bigger impact on the public than those that don't.

Li Zhong, who speaks for the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, also noted the importance of establishing a mistake-tolerant system.

"President Xi Jinping noted that as long as the leaders are doing their jobs proactively, minor mistakes in a speech are forgivable, but being lost for words when answering questions, or creating a severe public opinion crisis are not," Li said.

According to Hu Kaihong, deputy director of the State Council Information Office's Press Bureau, government leaders themselves are increasingly going in front of the public to make statements.

The major reason behind some spokespersons being silent and avoiding reporters is that they have few opportunities to take part in drafting important policies or are not necessarily familiar with the situation, Li said.

Guo Weimin, spokesperson and vice-minister of the State Council Information Office, said spokespersons at different levels will have more training in the future to increase their capability of making a decent speech and becoming a strong storyteller.


(China Daily 11/07/2016 page4)

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