Regular media briefings planned

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 08 December, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 08 December, 1999, 12:00am

The Government is to explain its policies more 'clearly and regularly' to the outside world to avoid misunderstandings, its chief spokesman said yesterday.

Zhao Qizheng, director of the State Council's Information Department, told Hong Kong newspaper representatives visiting Beijing that his department planned to hold regular sessions to answer questions from foreign media.

Other ministries and government departments would also be encouraged to explain their policies to the media, he said.

Special sessions would be held on Beijing's policies on issues such as Taiwan and human rights, and on accidents such as the ferry disaster off Yantai, Shandong province, last month that killed 280 people.

Mr Zhao said: 'Silence gives rise to speculation and wrong news. News also moves very fast. It won't help if you respond too slowly. We have to learn the skills to face the media.' He pointed to an earlier report in the Hong Kong press which wrongly claimed that former government spokesman Yuan Mu had committed suicide.

'If reporters seek clarification [for this kind of news event], we should respond immediately,' Mr Zhao said.

The director said the Government would make better use of the Internet in spreading its message, including increasing the content of English-language information on China.

Mr Zhao admitted China had an image problem in the West and said misunderstanding, politics, exaggeration by the media and sometimes simply ignorance were to blame.