Xinhua News Agency

"Xinhua" redirects here. For other uses, see Xinhua (disambiguation).
Xinhua News Agency
Type Broadcast radio, television and online
Country China
Founded 1931 (1931)
Broadcast area
Mainland China, Satellite, Internet
Area Worldwide
Owner People's Republic of China (state-owned institution)
Former names
Red China News Agency (1931–1937)
Affiliation State Council of the People's Republic of China
Affiliates Reference News
CNC World
Official website
Xinhua News Agency (English)
Xinhua News Agency
Simplified Chinese 新华通讯社
Traditional Chinese 新華通訊社
Literal meaning New China News Agency
Abbreviated name
Simplified Chinese 新华社
Traditional Chinese 新華社
Literal meaning New China Agency

The Xinhua News Agency (English pronunciation: /ˌʃɪnˈhwɑː/[1]) is the official press agency of the People's Republic of China. Xinhua is the biggest and most influential media organization in China. Xinhua is a ministry-level institution subordinate to the Chinese central government. Its president is a member of the Central Committee of China's Communist Party.

Xinhua operates more than 170 foreign bureaus worldwide, and maintains 31 bureaus in China—one for each province, plus a military bureau. Xinhua is the sole channel for the distribution of important news related to the Communist Party and Chinese central government.

Xinhua is regarded as the most influential media outlet in China as almost every newspaper in China relies on Xinhua feeds for content. People's Daily, for example, uses Xinhua material for approximately 25 percent of its stories. Xinhua is a publisher as well as a news agency—it owns more than 20 newspapers and a dozen magazines, and it prints in eight languages: Chinese, English, Spanish, French, Russian, Portuguese, Arabic, and Japanese.


The Xinhua press agency was started in November 1931 as the Red China News Agency and changed to its current name in 1937.[2] During the Pacific War the agency developed overseas broadcasting capabilities and established its first overseas branches.[2] It began broadcasting to foreign countries in English from 1944. When the communists took power in China, the agency represented the Chinese Communist Party in countries and territories with which it had no diplomatic representation, such as Hong Kong.[2]

The agency was described as the "eyes and tongue" of the Party, observing what is important for the masses and passing on the information.[3] A former Xinhua director, Zheng Tao, noted that the agency was a bridge between the Party, the government and the people, communicating both the demands of the people and the policies of the Party.[4]

Like many other media organizations, Xinhua struggled to find the "right line" to use in covering the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. Although more cautious than People's Daily in its treatment of sensitive topics during that period – such as how to commemorate reformist Communist Party leader Hu Yaobang's April 1989 death, the then ongoing demonstrations in Beijing and elsewhere, and basic questions of press freedom and individual rights – Xinhua gave some favorable coverage to demonstrators and intellectuals who were questioning top party leaders. Even so, many Xinhua reporters were angry with top editors for not going far enough and for suppressing stories about the Tiananmen Square crackdown. For several days after the violence on June 4, almost no one at Xinhua did any work, and journalists demonstrated inside the Agency's Beijing compound. Government control of the media increased after the protests – top editors at the agency's bureaus in Hong Kong and Macau were replaced with appointees who were "loyal to China" rather than those with ties to either Hong Kong or Macau.[5]


Today, Xinhua News Agency delivers its news across the world in eight languages: Chinese, English, Spanish, French, Russian, Portuguese, Arabic, and Japanese, as well as news pictures and other kinds of news. It has made contracts to exchange news and news pictures with more than eighty foreign news agencies or political news departments. Xinhua is also responsible for handling, and in some cases, censoring reports from foreign media destined to release in China.[6]

The agency recently began to converge its news and electronic media coverage and has increased its English coverage through its wire service. Xinhua recently acquired commercial real estate on New York's Times Square and is developing a staff of top-tier English-language reporters. Xinhua has also started an English-language satellite news network.[7]

Internal media

The Chinese media's internal publication system, in which certain journals are published exclusively for government and party officials, provides information and analysis which are not generally available to the public. The State values these internal reports because they contain much of China's most sensitive, controversial, and high-quality investigative journalism.

Xinhua produces reports for the "internal" journals. Informed observers note that journalists generally like to write for the internal publications because they can write less polemical and more comprehensive stories without having to omit unwelcome details commonly done in the print media directed to the general public. The internal reports, written from a large number of countries, typically consist of in depth analyses of international situations and domestic attitudes towards regional issues and a certain country's perception of China.[8]

The Chinese government's internal media publication system follows a strict hierarchical pattern designed to facilitate party control. A publication called Reference News—which includes translated articles from abroad as well as news and commentary by Xinhua reporters—is delivered by Xinhua personnel, rather than by the national mail system, to officials at the working level and above. A three-to-ten-page report called Internal Reference (Neibu Cankao) is distributed to officials at the ministerial level and higher. One example was the first reports on the SARS outbreak by Xinhua which only government officials were allowed to see.[9] The most classified Xinhua internal reports are issued occasionally to the top dozen or so party and government officials.

Headquarters and regional sectors

The Xinhua headquarters is located in Beijing. The Xinhua News Agency established its first overseas affiliate in 1947 in London, with Samuel Chinque as publisher. Now it distributes its news in Asia, Middle East, Latin America, Africa where run the superior offices; in Hong Kong, Macau and many foreign countries and districts. In 2011 there were more than 150 Xinhua affiliates.[10]

Xinhua in Hong Kong

Xinhua's branch in Hong Kong was not just a press office, but served as the de facto embassy of the PRC in the territory when it was under British administration. It was named a news agency under the special historic conditions before the territory's sovereignty was transferred from Britain to China, because the People's Republic did not recognise British sovereignty over the colony, and could not set up a consulate on what it considered to be its soil.[11]

Despite its unofficial status, the directors of the Xinhua Hong Kong Branch included high-ranking former diplomats such as Zhou Nan, former Ambassador to the United Nations and Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs, who later negotiated the Sino-British Joint Declaration on the future of Hong Kong.[12] His predecessor, Xu Jiatun, was also vice-chairman of the Hong Kong Basic Law Drafting Committee, before fleeing to the United States in response to the military crackdown on the Tiananmen Square protests, where he went into exile.[13]

It was authorized by the special administrative region government to continue to represent the central government after 1997, and it was renamed "The Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong SAR" on January 18, 2000. The State Council appointed Gao Siren (高祀仁) as the director in August 2002. After the Liaison Office was established, Xinhua Agency was reconstituted as a bona fide press office.

Xinhua in Cairo

Xinhua opened its Middle East Regional Bureau in Cairo, Egypt in 1985. In November 2005, Xinhua News Agency opened a new office building alongside the Nile River in Cairo's Maadi district.[14]

Xinhua in Vientiane

Xinhua opened a bureau in Vientiane, the capital of Laos, in 2010. It is the only foreign news bureau permitted to permanently operate in the country.


The Xinhua News Agency runs the prominent news website Xinhuanet, which provides news in six different languages. The website attracted 430,000 unique visitors between February 2008 and February 2009 according to a survey.

Political stance

In an interview with Indian media in 2007, the head of Xinhua, Tian Congmin, affirmed the problem of "historical setbacks and popular perceptions".[15] Newsweek criticized Xinhua as "being best known for its blind spots" regarding controversial news in China, and mentioned that its "coverage of the United States is hardly fair and balanced". Even so, "Xinhua's spin diminishes when the news doesn't involve China".[16]

During the 2003 SARS outbreak, Xinhua was slow to release reports of the incident to the public. However, its reporting in the aftermath of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake was seen as more transparent and credible as Xinhua journalists operated more freely.[17][18] After the Beijing Television Cultural Center fire, cognizant of Xinhua's "tardy" reporting in contrast to bloggers, China announced the investment of 20 billion yuan to Xinhua. The vice president of the China International Publishing Group commented on this, saying that quantity of media exposure would not necessarily help perceptions of China. Rather, he said, media should focus on emphasizing Chinese culture and the Chinese way of life "to convey the message that China is a friend, not an enemy".[19]

Xinhua for its own part has criticized the perception of Western media objectivity, citing an incident during the 2008 Tibetan unrest when Western media outlets used a picture of Nepalese police beating Tibetan protesters, misleadingly labeling the pictures as of Chinese police,[20] with commentary from CNN calling Chinese leaders "goons and thugs". CNN later apologized for the comments,[21] but Richard Spencer of The Sunday Telegraph defended what he conceded was "biased" Western media coverage of the riots, blaming China for not allowing foreign media access to Tibet during the conflict.[22]

See also


  1. J. C. Wells: Longman Pronunciation Dictionary, 3rd ed., for both British and American English
  2. 1 2 3 Pares, Susan. (2005). A political and economic dictionary of East Asia. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-85743-258-9
  3. Malek, Abbas & Kavoori, Ananadam. (1999). The global dynamics of news: studies in international news coverage and news agenda. p. 346. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 978-1-56750-462-0
  4. Markham, James. (1967) Voices of the Red Giants. Ames, IA: Iowa State University Press.
  5. Li, Jinquan & Lee, Chin-Chuan. (2000). Power, Money, and Media: Communication Patterns and Bureaucratic Control in Cultural China. p. 298. Northwestern University Press. ISBN 978-0-8101-1787-7
  6. Glasser, Chris & Winkler, Matthew. (2009). International Libel and Privacy Handbook: A Global Reference for Journalists, Publishers, Webmasters, and Lawyers. Bloomberg Press. ISBN 978-1-57660-324-6
  7. Troianovski, Anton (June 30, 2010). "China Agency Nears Times Square". The Wall Street Journal.
  8. Lampton, David (2001). The Making of Chinese Foreign and Security Policy in the Era of Reform, 1978–2000: 1978–2000. Stanford University Press. ISBN 978-0-8047-4056-2
  9. The Economist, "Chinese whispers: Not believing what they read in the papers, China’s leaders commission their own ", June 19, 2010, p. 43.
  10. Hong, Junhao 2011: From the World's Largest Propaganda Machine to a Multipurposed Global News Agency: Factors in and Implications of Xinhua's Transformation Since 1978 04 Aug 2011
  11. The Long History of United Front Activity in Hong Kong, Hong Kong Journal, Cindy Yik-yi Chu, July 2011
  12. 'Poet diplomat' Zhou Nan takes aim at Occupy Central, South China Morning Post, 16 June 2014
  13. China's ex-proxy in Hong Kong fired for 'betrayal', UPI, February 22, 1991
  14. New office building of Xinhua Middle East regional bureau opens in Cairo 2005/11/26
  15. Q&A: 'Our credibility is doubted to a certain degree', Times of India, September 28, 2007.
  16. Fish, Isaac Stone; Dokoupil, Tony (September 3, 2010). "Is China's Xinhua the Future of Journalism?". Newsweek. Retrieved September 5, 2010.
  17. Quake coverage 'testing China's media credibility', Radio Australia, May 16, 2008
  18. Quake Moves Xinhua Past Propaganda, Newser, May 13, 2008
  19. China to spend billions to boost media credibility Archived June 3, 2009, at the Wayback Machine., Radio86, March 10, 2009
  20. Commentary: Biased Media Reports Reveal Credibility Crisis, Xinhua, March 26, 2008
  21. Barboza, David (May 16, 2008). "China: CNN Apologizes Over Tibet Comments". New York Times.
  22. Spencer, Richard (March 28, 2008). "Bias over Tibet cuts both ways". London, England: The Sunday Telegraph. Retrieved September 5, 2010.
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