• Sat
  • Aug 30, 2014
  • Updated: 5:16am
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 June, 2013, 4:43pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 August, 2013, 4:13am

China's news agency Xinhua tries to be hip and fails


Patrick Boehler has published on China and Southeast Asia in four languages for publications in the US, Europe and Asia. After stints with Austria's ministries of defence and foreign affairs in Vienna and Beijing, he began his reporting career in Kuala Lumpur with the Malaysian online news portal Malaysiakini and, later, The Irrawaddy Magazine, a Myanmar exile publication in Thailand. He holds a doctorate in political science and has taught journalism at the University of Hong Kong. Follow him on Twitter: @mrbaopanrui

In an effort to bring more transparency to the secretive halls of power in Beijing and China's provincial capitals, state-run news agency Xinhua has launched a database with biographies of China's leading officials.

The rather puritanical website appeared five months after Reuters made public its long-planned Connected China database of Chinese leaders. 

With only 178 counted entries, the Xinhua database is dwarfed by the Reuters equivalent, said to have tens of thousands of entries, and Chinavitae, a non-affiliated database which claims to contain roughly 4,000 officials.

The Xinhua database contains profiles of leading government and Communist Party officials in Beijing and in every province.

In the spartan web design dating frm the early Hu Jintao presidency, the database links to reports and photos of recent appearances, inspection tours and speeches. Officials can be searched by position, name, date of birth and ancestral home.

For Hong Kong, the database features biographies of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and Legislative Council President Jasper Tsang Yok-sing.

As Chinese Central Television expands into Africa and the Americas, and soon to Europe, the move seems another attempt by the mammoth state-run news agency, which releases 15,000 news stories a day, to re-invent itself as a modern news agency.

In December, it joined Twitter, the microblogging service banned in China. Earlier June, it set up shop in the posh Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré in Paris.

On Monday, it urged citizen-journalists to submit stories for its "for up-to-the-minute coverage of an ever-changing China" linking to an downloadable Android application with a QR-code. 


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