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Minister Zhao Qizheng On Sino-Foreign Cultural and Media Exchange

       China is bound to move into the front ranks of the world in the general trend of economic globalization

       Zhao Qizheng, minister in charge of the Information Office of the State Council, met John Sie, board chairman and CEO of Starz Encore based in the United States, and his entourage on March 20 in Beijing. The group came to China to attend the Fourth Sino-Foreign Summit Forum on Cable TV Management. The two sides exchanged views on Sino-foreign cultural and media exchange.

The war on Iraq: a further proof of the media's importance

       Zhao cited the importance of the media, when noting its active involvement in the US-Iraqi war that broke out on the day of their meeting. He said prior to the development of the communications satellite, it was hard to imagine people could watch the live telecast of a war rumbling tens of thousands of miles away. Currently, the media war and military war are interwoven. People get to know the progress of the war from the media and are greatly influenced by it. We just learned that the US army had destroyed the Iraqi radio station and that no Iraqi broadcasting could be received in Kuwait. (Later, it was reported that the reception failure might have had other reasons. The Iraqi TV station was bombed at 4 a.m. on March 26, Beijing time.--Ed.)

Development and problems of China's media

       When talking about the development and problems of China's TV sector at the request of Mr. Sie, Minister Zhao said China's TV sector has developed very quickly though it started much later than the US TV. Both China's wireless and cable TV now lead the world in terms of scale. But, China has no broadcasting groups as large and internationally influential as those in the United States. China has not made full use of its resources, in spite of its numerous TV and radio stations. So, we need to conduct exchange with our American colleagues with regard to management experience, said Zhao.
       "In program exchange, our program exports are limited when compared with our commodity exports. We have purchased a large variety of foreign programs, which greatly outnumber our exports. The amount of books and newspapers imported by China is four times that it has exported. The number of import VCD and CD is 14 times that we have exported. China's movie import market is dominated by Hollywood. But we have problems in exporting our films to the United States, because, as I know, Americans don't like foreign pictures. We may feel consoled, as few foreign films have enjoyed popularity in the United States," Zhao continued.
       "China has produced numerous top-grade short cultural films about scenic spots, cultural heritages, music and folklores. I hope you can help these products enter the US market. We can bear the main cost of such short films" said the minister.

People worldwide show growing interest in China

       After expressing his thanks to Minister Zhao for his frank comments on the imbalance between Sino-US cultural exchange, Mr. Sie said the last question discussed at the forum was how to convene the meeting 10 years later. Some attendants predicted that by then all foreigners participating in the meeting would vie with each other in bidding for China's TV products. He said, through the efforts of Minister Zhao and other Chinese leaders, China has made outstanding achievements in spreading its cultural heritage in the world and changing the people's lifestyles. Along with the development of the Chinese economy, people worldwide are showing growing interest in China. Americans are willing to spend a lot of money purchasing Chinese clothes. American mainstream movies have begun using Chinese directors, actors and actresses, and producing films with a strong Chinese flavor. Recently, people are showing great interest in Zheng He's voyage to the West, because he had not only sailed to Southeast Asia, but also to Africa and Europe. China's media has made the quickest development, and China's progress in the international arena is astonishing, Sie commented.
       Responding to Sie's praise, Minister Zhao said, "We are aware there is still much to be done. As for the story of Zheng He's voyage to the West, a Malaysian vice- premier told me that the fleet of Zheng greatly exceeded that of Columbus. Zheng took with him tens of thousands of sailors. If he had left some of them in each place he had been to, the number of Chinese now residing in Southeast Asia would now be enormous. He joked, why didn't Zheng He think about this? (Laughter from the listeners.) The Chinese are introverted by nature. Zheng's voyage chiefly aimed to display the pomp of the imperial court. When the British first entered Australia, there were only 800 of them, all prisoners sent there in exile. Later Australia became Britain's colony and then a member of the British Commonwealth."

China will not stay at the tail end of the general trend of economic globalization for long

       On China's progress, Minister Zhao said, "As everybody knows, the CCTV for the first time suspended its scheduled program today, and some channels started telecasting the Iraqi war live round-the-clock. China was unable to do this when the September 11 Incident occurred. China did not relay the TV broadcast when Apollo landed on the moon. You may be surprised at these changes. I appreciate Mr. Sie's words: everybody is making progress. China will not stay at the tail end of the general trend of economic globalization for long. It is bound to move into the front ranks of the world."
       The minister continued, "As China's cultural exports are fairly limited, foreigners, including most Americans, only have a scanty knowledge of the country. Three years ago, before a US ballet troupe came here on a performance tour, they asked if they could book hotel rooms with bathrooms. To get to know the real China, one should take in all aspects. On the one hand, China now boasts expressways and broadband Internet. On the other, horse- and ox-drawn carts are still used in the country. China has more than 30 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions. This vast territory may be likened to a train carrying both luxury and poor cars. But the locomotive is forging ahead. How difficult it is to maintain the proper speed to propel both cars."
       "Given foreigners' limited understanding of China, the task of the State Council Information Office is to introduce to them China's actual conditions. We should establish a strategic partnership with overseas media and turn the media into a two-way bridge dedicated to mutual enlightenment," added Zhao.
       The minister answered other questions posed by his guests and discussed with them the best overseas landing channels for CCTV4 and CCTV9.

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