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China rebuked over communication
BBC[Friday, October 17, 2008 11:29]
By Shirong Chen

A veteran Chinese diplomat has openly criticised officials for their lack of awareness and inability to communicate with the outside world.

The official, former ambassador to France Wu Jianmin, says this has contributed to a distortion of China's image abroad.

Reporting rules for foreign journalists were loosened ahead of the Olympics.

But the rules will not be extended after coverage of unrest in Tibet was perceived as critical of China.

Empty claims

China is very image conscious. The more relaxed rules for foreign media in China were introduced at the beginning of last year with the hope of generating more coverage of the country's achievements during the Olympic period.

The rules have enabled media organisations like the BBC to expand coverage, allowing people outside China to come to know more about the country than ever before.

But the government has indicated the rules will not be extended beyond Friday.

Commentators say this is because of what China perceived to be a flood of negative reporting by the foreign media during the Tibetan troubles in March and the Olympic torch relays in April.

Wu Jianmin says China's image problem is caused at least in part by its own officials because they do not know how to communicate with the outside world.

He says they waste time using political cliches, talking nonsense, and making empty or outrageous claims.

For example, many Chinese officials like to tell their foreign counterparts that China makes one out of every four ties people wear all over the world.

Would that not invite foreigners to impose anti-dumping duties on you? Mr Wu asks.

He also suggests that the Chinese Communist Party's propaganda department should be called the department of communications.

So long as the system continues to control the media, efforts to bolster the country's image will backfire, as the ongoing scandal over tainted milk shows only too well.
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