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March 8, 2014
Table of Contents
1 Introduction
Xinhua News Agency


The Xinhua News Agency (新华社, pinyin: Xīnhu?-sh?), or NCNA (New China News Agency), is the official press agency of the government of the People's Republic of China and the biggest center for collecting information and press conferences in the PRC with a rank of class A among the world wide news agencies. The National Propaganda Department appoints publishers, chief editors, and other key officials of the above-mentioned newspapers--plus a few others--while provincial and local party leaders make similar appointments for party papers in their jurisdictions. It is an institution of the State Council of China.

It is one of the two news agencies in mainland China; (the other one is the China News Service).

In many ways, Xinhua is the fuel propelling China's print media. Perhaps unique in the world because of its role, size, and reach, Xinhua reports directly to the party's Propaganda Department; employs more than 10,000 people--as compared to about 1,300 for the UK's Reuters, for example; has 107 bureaus worldwide both collecting information on other countries and dispensing information about China; and maintains 31 bureaus in China--one for each province plus a military bureau. Inasmuch as most of the newspapers in China cannot afford to station correspondents abroad--or even in every Chinese province--they rely on Xinhua feeds to fill their pages. 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 Chinese, English, and four other languages.

Like other government entities, Xinhua is feeling the pinch of reduced State financial subsidies. Beijing has been cutting funding to the news agency by an average of seven percent per year over the past three years, and State funds currently cover only about 40 percent of Xinhua's costs. As a result, the agency is raising revenues through involvement in public relations, construction, and information service businesses.

In the past, Xinhua was able to attract the top young journalists emerging from the universities or otherwise newly entering the field, but it can no longer do so as easily because of the appeal and resources of other newspapers and periodicals and the greater glamour of television and radio jobs. For example, midlevel reporters for the Xinmin Evening News often are given an apartment, whereas at Xinhua and People's Daily this benefit is reserved for the most senior journalists.

The Xinhua press agency was started in November 1931 as the Red China News Agency and changed to its current name in 1937. It began broadcasting to foreign countries in English from 1944.

The headquarter of Xinhua is located in Beijing. Xinhua News Agency established its first filiale abroad in 1948. 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. It has more that one hundred Xinhua’s filiales.

Today, Xinhua News Agency delivers its news across the world in 7 languages including Chinese, English, French, Russia, Spanish, Arab, etc., 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 agency or political news department.

Unlike the People's Daily, which is an organization of the Communist Party of China rather than of the PRC government, Xinhua rarely offers editorials, but rather passes through speeches by government officials. Its position set as a platform of receiving and distributing the information all over the world and thus it covers the world news, live news and exclusive reports. (source:

Like many other media organizations, Xinhua struggled to find the "right line" to use in covering the Tiananmen Square events of April-June 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 4 June, almost no one at Xinhua did any work, and journalists demonstrated inside the Agency's Beijing compound.

In 2001, Hong Kong-listed media company Global China Technology Group Ltd invested in joint ventures with Xinhua News Agency to set up a market information World Wide Web|Web site and offer audio and visual services planning and consulting.

The Chinese media's internal publication system, in which certain journals are published exclusively for government and party officials, provides information and analysis 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 and many other Chinese media organizations produce reports for the "internal" journals. Informed observers note that journalists generally like to write for the internal publications--typically, only the most senior or most capable print and broadcast reporters are given such opportunities--because they can write less polemical and more comprehensive stories without having to omit unwelcome details as is commonly done in the print media directed to the general public. A Chinese historian has noted, as an example of such self-censorship, that only a minority of China's population are aware 30 million people starved to death in the early 1960s, because the Party has never allowed the subject to be openly explored in the media.

The Chinese Government's internal media publication system follows a strict hierarchical pattern designed to facilitate party control. A publication called Reference Information (Cankao Ziliao)--which includes translated articles from abroad as well as news and commentary by senior 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. The most highly classified Xinhua internal reports, known as "redhead reference" (Hong Tou Cankao) reports, are issued occasionally to the top dozen or so party and government officials.

There are signs the internal publication system is breaking down as more information becomes widely available in China. A Hong Kong-based political journal circulated on the Chinese mainland has questioned the need for such a system in light of China's modern telecommunications and expanding contacts with the outside world. Internal publications are becoming less exclusive; some are now being sold illegally on the street and are increasingly available to anyone with money.

Xinhua's branch in Hong Kong was not just a press office. It was named a news agency under the special historic conditions before China resumed the territory's sovereignty from Britain. Until 1997, it served as the de-facto embassy of the PRC in the territory. It was authorized by the Special Administration 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.

As suggested by the name change, Xinhua's present role is mainly about liaison with the broad spectrum of groups and associations in Hong Kong, or what is known as "united front" work in the terminology of the Chinese Communist Party.

According to some press reports in Hong Kong, the Liaison Office was under pressure from Beijing after the July 1 mass protest in 2003. Beijing officials reportedly criticised the Liaison Office for its inaccurate assessment of the public sentiment in Hong Kong during that period.

The former Hong Kong headquarters of Xinhua in Wan Chai was vacated in 2001, when the office relocated to Sheung Wan, and sold in September 2002. The 23-storey building will be converted into a four-star hotel with 480 rooms. Located at 387 Queen's Road East, the 1970s building had been Xinhua's home for more than 20 years.

Previous Directors of Hong Kong Xinhua

Xu Jiatun (許家屯) headed the Hong Kong branch of Xinhua until 1990, when he fled to the United States amid accusations that he sympathized with Beijing students during the 1989 Tiananmen Square Crackdown.

Xu angered Beijing when he comforted Hong Kong students who staged a hunger strike outside the Xinhua office in support of the pro-democracy movement in Beijing in 1989. Years after, he joined to appeal for a reversal of the official verdict that the demonstrations were a "counter-revolutionary rebellion".

Zhou Nan (周南) succeeded exiled Xu Jiatun as the director of Xinhua in Hong Kong after the 1989 Tiananmen Square Crackdown. Zhou henceforth played a key role in the 13-year Sino-British argument on the handover in 1997.

During the hostile years, Zhou named Hong Kong’s last governor Chris Patten as a 'sinner of a thousand years'. He said Patten had committed 'three violations', referring to Patten's political reforms, branded by Beijing as a breach of the Joint Declaration, the Basic Law, and understandings between the two sovereign nations.

Zhang Junsheng (張浚生), former Xinhua vice-director, was brought into the agency by its former Hong Kong director, Xu Jiatun, in 1985. He was one of the few pre-1989 staff to survive the post-Tiananmen purge.

For 13 years, he was one of the few Xinhua officers who enjoy publicity by building up contacts in the film and arts world as the agency's cultural attaché.

His most famous manoeuvre was to repeat criticism of the Bill of Rights made in confidence by then-chief justice Sir Ti Liang Yang. Zhang also openly called Hong Kong’s last governor Chris Patten a liar. He accused Patten of trying to create chaos in the civil service by undermining its neutrality.

A Xinhua News Agency branch was set up in Macau in 2000. The News Department of the Xinhua News Agency Macau Branch, a working organ sent by the central people's government of the PRC, is responsible for gathering news. The latter was renamed the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Macau SAR.

See also: Media in China

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Category:People's Republic of China
Category:Chinese media
Category:Wire services

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Xinhua News Agency".

Last Modified:   2005-02-27

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