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Xinhua New Agency’s 'political mistake' causes backfire

Xinhua New Agency’s 'political mistake' causes backfire

Posted March. 01, 2018 07:39,   

Updated March. 01, 2018 07:39

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The impact as a result of the backlash against the Communist Party of China Central Committee’s proposal to remove the restriction regarding the president’s term to serve a maximum of two consecutive terms (maximum of 10 years) from the country’s constitution is also affecting Xinhua News Agency, a state run news agency serving as the mouth of the Chinese government.

The root of the problem lies within Xinhua News Agency’s “breaking news” in English on removing the restriction on presidential terms while reporting the details of the draft revision of the constitution by the Communist Party of China Central Committee on Sunday. The state run news agency’s English news fundamentally targets foreign countries. The foreign press, which had all ears to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s attempt for long-term rule, published the news with heavy headlines and Chinese citizens were able to access this news in no time. Abolishing the restriction on the presidential terms has interlocked with the possibility of President Xi Jinping’s attempt for a prolonged one-man rule, creating immense sensation and dispute within China and abroad. Resistance of the public opinion within China is rather serious, expressing concerns over the potential of China retrograding to the era of Mao Zedong’s dictatorship.

Media outlets in Hong Kong such as Ming Pao said on Wednesday, “China sees the report by Xinhua News Agency, which emphasized abolishing restrictions on the presidential term, as a ‘political mistake.’” It has been said that senior level officials of the Chinese government were enraged, and dismissed editor-in-chief and related persons in charge, not to mention imposing self-criticism and censure against Xinhua News Agency President Cai Mingzhao. The state run news agency did not respond in detail, saying, “It is not certain” when Ming Pao made inquiries to confirm‎ the facts.

According to Ming Pao, China has made orders to its domestic media to “make an ambiguous report that does not make the part of abolishing restrictions on presidential term noticeable so as to avoid interference of foreign countries.” It has been interpreted that China disconcerted as its efforts to control the news media failed with Xinhua News Agency’s breaking news in English. Other state run news agencies in China reported the abolishment of restrictions on terms along with the 4,000-letter report on the revision of the Constitution, which made it difficult to identify whether the Chinese government has decided to abolish such restrictions.

The Central Leading Group for Inspection Work under the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the highest internal-control institution of the Communist Party of China, is conducting a three-month audit against Xinhua News Agency and will look into its “political mistake” as well. Some, however, criticize that China’s control over the media is crossing the lines.

“How will Xinhua News Agency be able to make a genuine report in this kind of circumstances? This clearly demonstrates China’s lack of self-confidence,” said Hong Kong media, sharing remarks by their sources.


Wan-Jun Yun zeitung@donga.com