Spokesmen still silent as press get greater access

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 30 December, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 December, 2004, 12:00am

A State Council Information Office move to give media greater access to mainland government agencies has had negligible impact, with the representatives proving almost as elusive as before.

The information office released a list of 75 spokespeople associated with 62 government departments at a low-key news conference on Tuesday, but almost none could be contacted by the South China Morning Post yesterday.

A spokesman for State Development Planning Commission official Cao Yushu told the Post to first send a fax with interview topics and questions.

'I am a subordinate and our director [Mr Cao] is out at a meeting,' the spokesman said.

'Since you are a Hong Kong news service, we must pass your fax on and confer with the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office.

'Then we will inform you after our leaders make a decision about whether to accept the interview or not. I am not sure when we can tell you about that decision.'

Several other ministries, including the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of Finance and the State Council's State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, gave similar responses.

The list did not provide the spokespeople's direct office lines or mobile phone numbers.

The State Development Planning Commission official said its designated spokesman had other matters to handle.

'How would it be possible for him to answer thousands of phone calls from media across China?' he said.

Most spokespeople on the list are the heads of their respective ministries' publicity, legal or administration offices.