I went to attend the Chinese delegation’s press conference, and happened to meet the department of information of China’s Foreign Affairs Ministry. We talked for a while. They said that this time the delegation set up a Chinese news and communications center, and that this was the first time in decades that this kind of center was set up for an international conference.
This center is not a facade. The representative of the department of information said that during the 10 day conference there were 21 press releases, and that there was one big press release held daily, which was more frequent than the American delegation’s press releases. In these past few days, delegation chair Xie Zhenhua accepted many exclusive interviews from foreign media outlets, and they all took place at the center.
The room where the press conference was held could accommodate 60 people, but the department of information said that over 150 people came to the first press release. It was so crowded that you couldn’t get in. Some of the cameras were even fixed on the ceiling in a row; it was quite a sight. For this reason, the department of information rented a flat screen television at the conference so that people outside the room could see a live broadcast of the press release. It was a 100-inch screen, apparently the biggest screen of all the delegations.
This is one step closer towards making something out of nothing.
Ever since the Olympics, China has adopted a more open policy during international events. Even though it might not be enough for the developed countries, it is still more open than it was in the past, and this is certainly progress. China’s current government hopes to continue this open policy and hopes to gain the international community’s understanding and recognition of the so called “Rise of China.” From the economic and financial crisis to climate change, China has become more and more involved in international affairs. It stands to reason that China has ought to take action.
This is still an example of China learning from its own mistakes. Last year the events in Tibet on March 14 had such a big influence that they affected the Olympic torch relays. Because of this, the Foreign Affairs Department and the Publicity Department wrote a high level report investigating the problems with cultural exchange and foreign relations. Public diplomacy is also becoming more important. A month ago, the foreign department of information set up a public diplomacy office.
China is communicating more with the international community, especially in relation to the climate change issue. Their goal is to relieve political pressure as well as gain more understanding from the international community. The problem is that more improvement is probably necessary in order to truly realize this goal. One can increase the number of press releases, improve broadcasting technology, and increase the number of channels and the overall scope of the news by investing more money. But the content of the broadcast is still the decisive factor in determining the efficacy of the broadcast. The day before yesterday I heard a statement by the Vice Minister of Science and Technology. He told reporters about the many scientists who serve on the IPCC as well as the policies for large-scale wind energy and solar energy projects. Actually this is all extremely basic information that can be found on the websites of the Ministry of Science and China’s Meteorological Administration.
Moreover, is clear that the media was more concerned with finding facts that were relevant to the Copenhagen conference, information with real content. If I were a Science and Technology ministry official, I ought to talk about what I thought of the Copenhagen conference’s official opinion on the technology transfer issue. The ability of the Chinese government to provide this kind of real content is actually more difficult than accepting the Measure, Report, Verify (MRV) principle.
Translated by Michelle Deeter