China's Xi urges state media to boost global influence

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese state media must tell China’s story to the world better and become internationally influential, President Xi Jinping said on Friday, during a visit to three of the country’s main media outlets.

Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks during the opening ceremony of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in Beijing, China, January 16, 2016. REUTERS/Mark Schiefelbein/Pool

Chinese news outlets spanning television, radio and the Internet have been expanding across the globe with state encouragement, aiming, Chinese leaders have said, to combat the negative images of China they feel are spread by world media.

State news agency Xinhua has opened dozens of news bureaus around the world; China Central Television (CCTV) has launched a 24-hour English-language channel in the United States, and the official China Daily newspaper publishes several regional editions across the globe.

Visiting the People’s Daily, CCTV, and Xinhua, Xi said China must increase its ability to broadcast internationally, increase its voice on the global stage and “tell China’s story well”, state television said.

China must also create “flagship media with strong international influence” aimed at foreign audiences, Xi added.

State television broadcast images of Xi visiting CCTV’s control room and making a video call to CCTV’s Washington-based North America branch.

China’s efforts to expand its global media footprint have been controversial.

Reuters has found that state-owned China Radio International (CRI) has little-known ownership stakes in a global network of private radio stations from Houston to Finland to Bangkok in partnerships with overseas Chinese.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice have said they are investigating a California firm whose U.S. radio broadcasts are backed by CRI.

Xi also signaled that the ruling Communist Party would not be relaxing its tight grip on the media any time soon.

Media must follow the party line, uphold the “correct guidance of public opinion” and promote “positive propaganda as the main theme”, the reports paraphrased Xi as saying.

Critical articles must be “accurate and have objective analysis”, he added.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Michael Martina; Editing by Clarence Fernandez