Editors of the local media at the "China-Bangladesh Media Dialogue" in Dhaka on Tuesday suggested a direct flow of information and the exposure of journalists to China’s media world for a better understanding of issues at stake.
The Chinese news agency Xinhua brought together a select group of editors and publishers of both countries at the dialogue “to enhance communication and cooperation” between the media outlets ahead of the President Xi’s “milestone” visit.
“We hope that the media will play a positive role in enhancing relations between the two countries,” said Tuo Zhen, Vice-Minister of the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China’s Central Committee.
The Xi visit will be the first by any Chinese head of state to Bangladesh in the three decades since President Li Xiannian’s visit in March 1986.
At the beginning of the closed-door discussion, Zhen voiced China’s expectation that the media of both the countries together would inform people about developments in Beijing-Dhaka relations.
“We hope that the media will come up with positive reports on One Belt, One Road initiative and BCIM Economic Corridor,” he said, using an interpreter.
The ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative that promotes regional and cross-continental connectivity between China and Eurasia is the centrepiece of China’s economic diplomacy. The BCIM is a proposed economic corridor between Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar.
Wang Xiaohui, Editor-in-Chief of China Internet Information Center (China.org.cn), introduced the Chinese media delegates and said people-to-people contact and enhancement of economic ties would be the main objective of the Chinese president’s visit.
Prime Minister's Media Adviser Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury, who is also editor of The Daily Observer and chairman of a private television DBC NEWS, Editor of the Financial Express AHM Moazzem Hossain, Editor-in-Chief of bdnews24.com Toufique Imrose Khalidi, Managing Director and Chief Editor of the state-run news agency BSS Abul Kalam Azad, Director General (DG) of Bangladesh Television SM Haroon-or-Rashid, DG of Bangladesh Betar AKM Nesar Uddin Bhuiyan, CEO of RTV Rahman Syed Ashik and Senior Vice President of ATN Bangla Tasik Ahmed also expressed their points of view at the meeting.
The bdnews24.com editor-in-chief lauded China’s growth and proposed that there be “more opportunities” for media professionals to get to know each other.
“…I suggest that our journalists get exposure to China’s media world,” Khalidi said. “We often talk about people-to-people contact – we must have media-to-media contact, and effective contact, not just for the sake of it.”
He said the “general perception created in the West is that anything done in Asia has a credibility issue, has a quality issue…they will lecture us on how to go about doing our business in all aspects of our existence. That simply is not done anymore.”
“When it comes to civilisation or the history of mankind, we are way ahead of them,” the bdnews24.com chief editor remarked.
“The home to the oldest university on the planet is not very far from us; we had residential universities when they lived in caves.
“Let’s keep such examples in mind … and let’s work together,” Khalidi called upon the media of both nations.
The Financial Express editor hoped that the visit would help deepen the relations between China and Bangladesh.
In his view, communication and cooperation between the media can be expanded by way of an exchange of news as well as more flow of information.
For example, he said, “Our understanding of the One Belt, One Road initiative is inadequate and also often influenced by what the media in the West say and report about it. The same is the case with the BCIM economic corridor.”
The BSS managing director said the national news agency was eager to disseminate more information on the issue of bilateral cooperation with China.
“In the past two years, BSS has extensively covered the South-China expo, held in Kunming, to help promote regional trade and investment,” Azad said.
Gao Anming, deputy editor-in-chief of China Daily, the largest English newspaper in China with offices in 50 countries, agreed with the suggestion that the Western media was influencing the media and information flow in developing countries.
China Central Television Vice-President Sun Yusheng saw an “opportunity” to cooperate with Bangladeshi TV stations.
Hu Bangsheng, vice-president of China Radio International, who worked on the Bangla dictionary in 2010, said, “Our history of civilisation goes back 2500 years...so, the bonding between us goes deeper than others.”
He said he would like to offer news programmes in Bangla.
The cultural counsellor of the embassy Chen Shuang said the Dhaka-Beijing ties were “time-tested”.
Xinhua Deputy Director Yan Tao said the Chinese news agency began operations in Bangladesh 40 years ago and added that next year new media operations would start in Bangladesh.
Earlier, officially announcing the visit, China’s Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs Kong Xuanyou said in Beijing on Monday that the visit would be a "milestone", noting that both sides would make deals and bilateral relations would be improved.
During his visit, President Xi will meet President Abdul Hamid and Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury and hold bilateral talks with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
President Hamid will receive him at the airport on his arrival at 11.40am, according to the tentative programme. All official engagements will be gone through on the first day.
The Chinese leader will leave Dhaka for Goa on Oct 15 after paying respects to Bangladesh’s war dead at the National Martyrs Memorial in Savar at about 9am.
Bangladesh, which has always been a supporter of Beijing’s core issues, including the ‘one China’ policy, is expecting China as a partner in its infrastructure development.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam recently presented a list of what Dhaka wants from China. The list includes funds for project financing and substantive investment as the number one priority.