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Forum highlights media role as 'loudspeaker' of Belt & Road

Over 300 foreign journalists have been encouraged to convey more stories and achievements of China's Belt and Road Initiative which integrates countries in Asia, Europe, and Africa with a goal of promoting economic globalization.

During the recent 4th Media Cooperation Forum on Belt and Road hosted by People’s Daily, foreign and local media outlets, economic think-tanks and Chinese officials agreed on the importance of enhancing media’s role as ‘loudspeaker’ of Belt and Road.

Zhang Ping, vice chairman of standing committee of 12th National People’s Congress, called on media organizations to enhance communication.

To strengthen cooperation among domestic and international media, People’s Daily officials and their counterparts from different foreign media outlets have launched the Belt and Road Media Cooperation Center and Cross-border Joint Reporting Projects.

The People’s Daily, which has 3.5 million newspapers in circulation daily, has also launched the International Study Center.

The foreign media leaders have expressed support for deeper media collaboration to achieve the Belt and Road’s goal of economic prosperity through infrastructure interconnectivity, trade and investments, innovation, policies, finance, culture and people to people exchanges.

Stephen Rae, group editor-in-chief of Ireland’s Independent News and Media, described the advent of new media technology as disruptive “but it’s also extremely energizing because it means the media can be in contact with a wider reach of people at any time of the day.”

Masood Malik, managing director of Associated Press of Pakistan, said media forum is expected to inject vibrancy and enthusiasm among the stakeholders to create a world with peace and harmony.

For his part, Spain’s Agencia EFE president Jose Vera encouraged fellow journalists to be responsible in making reports and avoid fake news to make sure the whole society is moving forward with no harsh comments and criticisms.

Pavel Negoitsa, general director of Rossiyskaya Gazeta of Russia, said media should tell the stories of China’s efforts to promote the Belt and Road Initiative and should encourage millions of people to have access to the initiative proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013.

Guy Zitter, a senior adviser of United Kingdom’s Daily Mail and General Trust, has urged China not to be affected by political noise by some individuals opposing the Chinese investments in the foreign lands particularly in the UK.

“I fervently hope that President Xi and those taking decision for him about where to invest with Belt and Road are not put off by this noise and continue to invest in the UK. In providing funding for infrastructure, one of the large barriers to growth has been removed and it should be enthusiastically encouraged. We are very much in favor of it,” Zitter said.

Bloomberg News Asia Pacific senior executive editor Otis Bilodeau called the Belt and Road the most important story of China’s ongoing development and integration of global markets.

“Bloomberg has the responsibility to examine and report the initiative with our goal standard of accuracy and fairness. China remains a vitally important market for global investors and for Bloomberg. We will continue to invest, share best practices, play the role of connecting China and China’s stories to the rest of the world,” Bilodeau said.

Egypt’s Al-Ahram Newspaper managing editor Mansour Abo Alazzm said Egypt should learn from China’s experience and economy which is now the world’s second-largest.

“Media should spread up the words about Belt and Road and spread positive energy and brilliant of China and its achievements made by this initiative,” he said.

The Belt and Road media forum was held five months after the Belt and Road Forum on International Cooperation was held in Beijing where 29 head of states and government leaders, including the Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte, were present.

“Media cooperation is a sincere bid to formulate an information expressway, tear down emotional barriers, expand circles of friends and form a cultural concentric circle,” Yang said.

Yang said the more than 300 journalists, mostly foreigners including 35 from 10 Southeast Asian countries, was the largest delegation since the forum started in 2014.

In the pre-forum activities, the journalists visited Gansu’s top tourist spots including UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage Mogao Caves and Mingsha Echoing Sand Mountain as well as the province’s top agricultural and industrial parks.

From the ancient city of Dunhuang in northwest China, the foreign journalists went back to the capital city of Beijing to meet with a Chinese state leader on Thursday afternoon at the Great Hall of the People.

Hainan, a tropical island province in southern China, will host the 2018 Media Cooperation Forum.

Jelly Musico / PNA