Spokesperson system to get more open

Updated: 2011-12-17 07:36

By Xin Dingding (China Daily)

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BEIJING - China will accelerate efforts to improve the spokesperson system and be more open to the world next year when the country's ruling Party holds its 18th national congress, a senior official said on Friday.

"Next year, China will attract a lot more attention from the international community. We will be more open to answer concerns about China's development," said Wang Chen, minister of the State Council Information Office.

Spokesperson system to get more open 

Minister of the State Council Information Office Wang Chen chats with foreign journalists at a New Year's reception on Friday in Beijing. Jiang Dong / China Daily 

Addressing a New Year reception of more than 400 representatives from major international news agencies and overseas diplomats stationed in Beijing, as well as spokespersons from State agencies, Wang said the office will continue to provide information to all journalists about China in a timely, accurate and transparent manner.

After establishing a spokesperson system in governments and the CPC Central Committee in the past few years, Wang said, the nation will focus next year on improving spokespeople's capacity to handle complicated situations.

This year, the spokesperson system was under heated discussion after Wang Yongping, the spokesman for the Ministry of Railways, was removed from this position for neglecting some of the public's concerns at a news briefing about a bullet train crash in July that killed 40 people. Wang's comments triggered public anger about the ministry's handling of the rescue efforts.

Minister Wang said that the spokesperson system works well on the whole. "But there are some spokesmen who were not well prepared and made mistakes. It is normal. We need to give them more training to prepare for emergencies and complicated scenarios," he said.

Problems also existed when some central agencies changed spokespeople too often and lacked a good mechanism to make the system work well, he said.

Work is being done to identify the qualities needed to make a good spokesperson, and to consider setting up supporting offices for spokespeople, he said.

The State Council Information Office will continue to improve communication with the world on a "true, open China" that advocates peaceful development, he said.

He also encouraged Party and government departments, especially those closely linked with people's livelihoods, to begin micro blogs as a platform disseminating information, listen to the people and clarify rumors.

Han Yong Hong, Beijing chief correspondent of Lianhe Zaobao, a Singapore-based Chinese-language newspaper, said that the State Council Information Office has done a good job in the past year taking foreign media to interview government and Party agencies and officials that used to be off limits to them.

She said opportunities granting access to both the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway and the Party School of the Central Committee of CPC last year are good examples.

"Even though any interview can just touch on part of the story, (the access) opened a window for us," she said.

William Kazer, China money news editor with the Wall Street Journal, said that China has made a step forward by establishing a spokesperson system, and there is space for improvement.

A further step is needed to improve its culture of releasing information and make it a little bit more like other countries, he said.