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08:56 Apr 09 2009

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Diplomat urges western media to abide by journalism ethics in reporting China
08:55, April 09, 2009  

The western media should abide by the basic journalism principles in reporting China and play a positive role in promoting China-Europe relations, Chinese Ambassador Song Zhe to the European Union said on Wednesday.

"It is regrettable that some of the China reports from the western media are not comprehensive, objective or fair enough, which lead to some misunderstanding or biased views on China, and are to the detriment of the good relations between China and (the) EU built over many years of joint efforts," Song said at a meeting of Chinese and European Media.

German television channel N-TV broadcast footages of Nepalese police wrestling with protestors, claiming them sights in Tibet.(Xinhua Photo)

The meeting, sponsored by China-Europe Forum and the European Union's Committee of Regions and Cities, was attended by more than 20 journalists from European and Chinese news organizations.

Main western media reports - from CNN, the BBC, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post - distort the truth and mislead the public, in violation of the principle of news reporting. (Xinhua Photo)

Strongly criticizing some western media's biased coverage of China, Song said: "If Europe's focus on China is calibrated precisely, it does no good to the building of our understanding and trust or the upbringing of our healthy and stable relationship."

The ambassador noted that "there is still (a) lack of understanding" about China among the Europeans including the journalists.

Among the 6 million people who were visiting China each year, many stayed in Beijing, Shanghai or other big cities and some of them would go sightseeing along the tourist routes. But few would go into the hinterland or the countryside, to explore the complexity and diversity of China and the challenges it is facing, according to the diplomat.

"The insufficient exposure leads to incomplete knowledge and fragmented impressions, so most Europeans just don't know China well. Nor do most editors working at the media headquarters," Song added.

The western media's report of China is also heavily edited by their editors. "I talked with a few friends from the western media who were working in China. They told me that, living in the country, they would give a balanced description and analysis of what happened there, but their reports were constantly modified by the editors at home office and turned out to be very critical about China," the ambassador said.

Song also indicated that quite a few European media report China "on the basis of fixed images and prejudgement," and complained that some western media even "reprimands China on unfounded basis and by distorted facts."

He quoted American scholar Noam Chomsky as saying that some western media have nurtured a "systemic bias of the mass media," making patronizing comments and unfounded criticisms on China.

"In some extreme cases, they even abandon the fundamental principles of objectivity and fairness and violate the professional ethics, when they patch up a piece of news using untested or even fabricated information, or degrading the intellectual news commentary down to irrational bashing and smearing," Song said.

Song reminded the journalists of western media's distorted reports about the riot in Lhasa last year. A German TV took a photo of Nepalese Police arresting demonstrators as the Chinese army cracking down on the Tibetans. A German newspaper subtitled a picture as the Chinese police beating and capturing a protester, while in fact the police was saving the man from a violent mob attack.

"CNN anchor Jack Cafferty went too far by employing derogatory vocabulary in commenting the Chinese. The worldwide condemnation his mischief had stirred among the ethnic Chinese forced CNN to issue a public apology," he noted.

Acknowledging China's weak ability in presenting itself to the world, the ambassador stressed the importance of media's role in the development of China-Europe relations. "China is still not experienced enough to present itself to the Europeans in the fullest capacity. We have only the non-speaking made-in-China products and a few cultural events."

"The pen, the lens and the keyboard in reporters' hands carry special weight. They are more than reporting gadgets. What they (European media) produce will have a strong influence on the views of governments, enterprises, societies and the general public about China," he said.

"They are sculpting the image of China and shaping the public opinion on China-EU relationship. They are strong enough to move the trajectory of our relationship in this volatile era," he added.

The ambassador urged the western media to give "special attention" to responsibility, objectivity, credibility and communication.

"Our media and correspondents shall be more aware of their responsibility for promoting China-EU relations. They have major influence on the public opinion, on policy and on the future of our relations, and therefore are shouldering social and historical responsibilities," he said.

He urged journalists in the West to be "more adhering to the basic principles of news reporting for presenting the truth to the world."

"With objectivity in mind, one would try to step into the other's shoe and look at things from the other's perspective, and give comprehensive and balanced reporting without biased views or filtered opinion," the ambassador said.

Source: Xinhua

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