Carrying forward the Silk Road  Spirit and Deepening Media Cooperation

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Cui Yuying
Xinjiang is a place of breathtaking beauty, during this season of mellowing fruits and refreshing weather, for the 4th China-Eurasia Expo News Media Forum. Firstly, on behalf of the State Council Information Office of China, I’d like to extend warm congratulations to the convening of this forum and sincere greetings to the distinguished guests and friends from various countries who have come from afar.  In 2011, we held the first China-Eurasia Expo Forum of Ministers Responsible for Information. Since then, we’ve held another two forums for ministers responsible for information and a news media forum. Heads of the information administrative departments from countries in Asia and Europe and directors of media gathered together and discussed media responsibilities, exchanged experiences of development, conferred on channels for cooperation. These were rare opportunities with great significance.

Last year in particular, the leaders from the information administrative departments of China and Eurasian countries had an extensive exchange of their views on deepening media cooperation and jointly issued the Urumqi Consensus, creating a mechanism for exchanges and dialogues and deepening the practical cooperation on the media front between China and various Eurasian countries. A year has passed and we are now meeting again to have discussions around the theme of “carrying forward the Silk Road spirit and promoting media cooperation.” I feel a great delight and true cordiality with you.

“I heard about the envoy seeking the origin of the Yellow River; he has gone and traveled back from the sky path. How long has he been gone with the legendary man leading an ox? Now on a horse of the Dayuan Kingdom he is coming back.” These are lines from a poem by the Chinese poet Du Fu from the Tang Dynasty as a tribute to Zhang Qian, the envoy seeking the origin of the Yellow River. More than 2100 years ago, Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty had sent Zhang Qian on a mission to the West Regions and he made the first trip of exchanges between China and the West. From then on, countless merchants, monks and diplomatic missions have set foot on and passed the rich cultural and natural treasures along the Silk Road that spans more than 8,000 kilometers and 15 countries across the Eurasian Continent. Urumqi, our current location, used to be a major entry point to the West Regions and a major hub area. From here, goods like silk, porcelain ware, grapes and spices were imported and exported on a constant basis, while the cultural exchanges in operas, painting, literature and religions had been splendid: it was here that the cultural systems of China, India, Islam and Greece and Rome in Western Europe have interacted and blended and the East and West added radiance and beauty to each other in politics, economy, culture and philosophy. It is no wonder that the great British historian Dr. Arnold Toynbee had said with great emotions that should he had the chance to choose, he would “choose to be born in Xinjiang during the early C.E. era, the time when Mahayana Buddhism came to East Asia from India by way of Xinjiang.

In 1877, German geographer and orientalist Richthofen raised the concept of the “Silk Road” for the first time in the first chapter of his great work China. More than a century later, under the advocacy of President Xi Jinping, China is joining hands with countries in Eurasia in building the dream of the “Silk Road Economic Belt.” The “Silk Road Economic Belt” covers 40 countries in the core region of the Eurasian continent and a population of around 3 billion. The region features abundant natural resources and great potential for economic development. Under the backdrop of deepening globalization and accelerating regional integration, this great strategic vision not only reflects the common wish of the Eurasian countries for deepening their business exchanges and promoting economic transformation and upgrading but also imbues inexhaustible drive for deepening international cooperation and promoting the development of the countries and the region in the new era.

President Xi Jinping has raised a five-point proposal about the development of the Silk Road Economic Belt: policy communication, road connectivity, unimpeded trade, monetary circulation and understanding between the people. Among the five points, understanding among people through enhancing emotional identification serves as the prerequisite for the other objectives. Media are the bridge for connecting the hearts of the people and envoys for enhancing understanding and friendship among people of different countries. Media should not only be the witnesses of the historical process of developing the Silk Road Economic Belt, but also take on the responsibility of enhancing the understanding among people by communicating new ideas of mutual cooperation and common prosperity, releasing the positive energy of exchanges and mutual learning and harmonious coexistence and building the great bridge of understanding among people and common pursuit, thus laying a solid foundation in popular support and cultural climate for the development of the Silk Road Economic Belt.

The Silk Road Economic Belt is a rich mine for the journalism and also provides a new opportunity for the exchanges and cooperation among media from the relevant countries. The State Council Information Office of China actively advocates establishing stable relations of exchanges and cooperation between China and Eurasian countries and is ready to offer support to the exchanges and cooperation between the two sides. I wish to make the following proposals for your reference.

First, strengthen the level of news coverage and tell new stories about the Silk Road. In July, 2013, the State Council Information Office organized “Sensing China and Crossing the New Silk Road–Interviewing Trip along the Chongqing-Xinjiang-Europe International Railway,” where the interviewing group started from Chongqing, traveled past Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland and arrived in Germany. A journalist named Tu Yuan wrote a book based on his experience in this trip titled Driving All the Way to Berlin, which became a best-seller right after hitting the stores. In May this year, the State Council Information Office organized the large scale trans-border interviewing initiative called “Chinese Media’s Journey along the Silk Road” and the journalists left from Xi’an of Shaanxi Province, went passed Gansu, Xinjiang, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and finally arrived in Ankara, the capital of Turkey and the converging point of the Asian and European Continents. The trip took 20 days and covered a total distance of over 30,000 kilometers. The journalists have maintained close contact with the lives of people in China and other relevant countries and paid personal visits to industrial and mining enterprises. Using traditional and new media and with the forms like texts, photographs and videos, etc., they covered many touching stories that conveyed the Silk Road spirit of “cooperation being more precious than silk.”

Media can be a boost to the realization of the strategic vision of the Silk Road Economic Belt. Media of the countries along the belt should come up with innovative ways of coverage, expand coverage channels, tell the audience new stories and dreams along the Silk Road Economic Belt with truthfulness, objectivity and vividness, and convey the positive energy and voices of exchanges and cooperation among the countries and regions, so that the people in countries along the belt will understand the history of the Silk Road and the economic and cultural development in those countries. This helps them make greater contributions to the development of the Silk Road Economic Belt.

Currently, the countries and major cities along the Silk Road Economic Belt are all in the key stage of developing the economy and improving people’s livelihood. They are faced with the urgent task of responding to the financial crisis and accelerating the transformation and upgrading of their economy. The media should bear in mind the Silk Road spirit of “peace and cooperation, opening up and tolerance, mutual learning and mutual benefit and win-win,” actively respond to the problems and challenges under the complex circumstances, proactively set the positive theme of “cooperation for development, mutual benefit and win-win,” cover in an in-depth manner the common interests and strategic convergence points of the countries, strengthen the awareness of “community of interests” and “community of destiny” and create an atmosphere of harmony and friendship for the development of the Silk Road Economic Belt.

Second, improve the mechanism for exchanges and cooperation and drive media exchanges and cooperation to a new level. With the development of the Silk Road Economic Belt gathering momentum, the media exchanges and cooperation among countries along the belt have just begun to show great promise. Through joint planning, joint interviews, creating special columns for each other, and through forms like making programs available in more countries, joint live broadcasting, joint development of new media, and the media are conducting multi-level, multi-area dialogues, exchanges and friendly cooperation, thus forging a “Silk Road Media Cooperation Belt.”

I also would like to propose that China and the Eurasian countries maintain close connections, join forces in cooperation and seek common development, so as to step up information communication and resources sharing through effective mechanisms and stable channels. All sides should constantly enrich their cooperation, combine the strategies of “inviting in” and “going out,” continue to strengthen mutual personnel exchanges, organize internship and training programs, plan joint interviews, exchange news products and share news materials; meanwhile, we should carry out more in-depth dialogues and exchanges, share experiences and best practices in news coverage, business innovation, information technology and brand building, etc., and jointly enhance the market competitiveness of the media and their reputation with the audience. I also hope that we will go on to make the China Eurasia Expo News Media Forum a regular mechanism for exchanges and cooperation, to build on trust, understanding and consensus, so as to promote the exchanges and cooperation between China and Eurasian countries to a higher level.

Third, make full use of new technologies and new applications to strengthen the exchanges and cooperation of new media such as the Internet. The ancient Silk Road and the modern information highway both have their origins in people’s desire for exchanges and communication. Since China officially connected to the Internet in 1994, the development of the Internet in China has maintained the momentum of rapid development. At present, a total of 632 million Chinese are Internet users on this road of “lightspeed communication”; among them, 527 million are Internet users accessing via mobile phones and the penetration rate of the Internet is 46.9% in China. The Internet has become an emerging media with huge influence in China. Currently, when Chinese media cover major events, they adopt both the traditional channels like newspapers, radio and television and the new media platforms including websites, microblogs and mobile phone apps, communicating information in a multi-dimensional, interactive and 24-7 manner, greatly enhancing the media’s communication influence.

The countries along the Silk Road Economic Belt attach great importance to the development of new media, have written a large number of success stories in the applications of new communication technologies like the mobile Internet, cloud computing and big data and are facing common risks and challenges just like China. It is my hope that China and Eurasian countries can foster dialogues around these themes, engage in in-depth cooperation and learn from each other, to promote the prosperous development of the new media of all of us and the healthy development of the Internet on a global scale. With the favorable climate of developing the Silk Road Economic Belt, China and Eurasian countries can also jointly develop websites, conduct R&D for new technologies and applications, hold online forums and convey the spirit of “joint discussion, joint development and sharing.”,

The renowned Chinese American journalist Zhao Haosheng once said: “You never know the greatness of China until you visit Xinjiang.” Today, when we are gathered on this land of beauty and magnificence, it seems that we could still hear the camel bells ringing in the ancient deserts and see the solitary smoke rising in the sandy wind. “While mountains may not choose where they are, people can choose to meet.” It is my belief that as long as we have the confidence and resolve, the endless deserts and Snow Mountains could never block our desire for exchanges, nor could they stop our steps towards cooperation. It is my hope that this China-Eurasia Expo News Media Forum can further facilitate the development of the Silk Road Economic Belt and create greater space and stages for the exchanges and cooperation among the media in China and other countries along the belt.

Cui Yuying, vice Minister and Deputy Director, the State Council Information Office of China (August 31, 2014, Urumqi) delivered this Speech at the 4th China-Eurasia Expo News Media Forum