By Qi Kai
This year marks the China-ASEAN Year of Media Exchange, and in a congratulatory message to its opening ceremony held in Beijing on February 20, Chinese President Xi Jinping declared that China-ASEAN relations had entered a new phase of all-around development. He expressed hope that media from both sides would serve as messengers of friendly exchange, facilitators of pragmatic cooperation, guardians of harmonious coexistence and profound storytellers of peace and development to make great contributions to building a closer China-ASEAN community with a shared future.
On May 14, on the eve of the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations, the second ASEAN-China Media Cooperation Forum with the theme “New Trends, New Cooperation, New Future” was held in Beijing. Heads of the mainstream media organizations from China and 10 ASEAN member states joined diplomats and representatives of international organizations in in-depth discussions on how the media from the two sides can play a greater role in promoting cooperation and people-to people exchange by staying abreast with new trends brought by new technology.
Responsibilities of the Times
“Since the beginning, my career has been closely associated with ASEAN and Southeast Asia,” revealed Ling Shuo, editorial board member of the International Department of Xinhua News Agency, who has witnessed the development of Southeast Asian countries as a resident journalist. He considers it a major responsibility of media practitioners to tell stories of the region to make our voices heard.
Zhao Jun, editor-in-chief of China Report ASEAN under China International Publishing Group (CIPG), said that since its establishment, the platform of China Report ASEAN has remained committed to promoting the development of friendly relations between China and ASEAN through the power of the media. “Cooperation through the media permeates all sectors of society, including think tanks, which can produce more wisdom and programs,” she said.
Nargis Binti Mohamad Ali, senior reporter of Brunei Press Sdn Bhd, believes that ASEAN and Chinese media should strengthen cooperation and promote cross border reporting programs to cooperate in a wider range of areas.
“With the expansion of the new media, there has been a proliferation of fake news, and all kinds of rumors are prone to conflict and hatred, posing a severe threat to the stability of the region and the world,” commented Aung Zaw Lin, deputy chief editor of News & Periodicals Enterprise, Myanmar Ministry of Information.
Xu Liping, researcher at the Asia-Pacific and Global Strategy Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, fully agreed with Lin. “It is not uncommon for people from two different sides to get to know each other through information from third parties,” he explained. “The most critical issue for the media of China and ASEAN countries is true content, which should be the priority of our cooperation.”
Fan Zongding, local news editor and columnist of World News of the Philippines, thinks that some historical disputes between China and ASEAN countries have been bewitched by some countries and exaggerated in traditional media reports. Unfortunately, new media tends to go to the extreme with those disputes.
Azman Bin Abdul Hamid, editor of the New Straits Times of Malaysia, thinks that the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is very important because it is conducive to common prosperity around the world. However, reporting on the initiative has been intentionally distorted by some media outlets.
Making Better Use of Technology
Mellani Eka Mahayana, executive editor of Rakyat Merdeka Daily of Indonesia, believes that in the new media era, professional media practitioners should be able to provide more professional, credible and valuable information. “We need to continuously strengthen ourselves through digital technology to adapt to this new era,” she suggested.
“We should know what technologies we can use and how we can use them,” commented Lee Huay Leng, head of the Chinese Media Group, Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. “Of course, we should also take cost into account and maintain a certain business model.”
“With the development of media integration, our focus remains on content, while importance will also be attached to cutting-edge technology,” commented Wang Junming, director of the International Department of Science and Technology Daily of China.