Solomon Elusoji

A Deputy Executive Editor at one of China’s biggest online newspaper, huanqiu.com, Mr. Liu Yang, has shed light on how the news industry works in China.

Speaking to a group of journalists at the newspaper’s Beijing headquarters on Wednesday, Yang, who has worked in the Chinese media for about 14 years, said journalism in China puts the nation’s interest ahead of personal aggrandisement.

“I have been in Chinese media for about 13 years,” he said. “We are getting more and more room to do comprehensive reporting. Every country has its rules. You can’t say everything. But I think the Chinese censorship is much obvious. The U.S. Government won’t say it explicitly, but they do it too in a roundabout way.
“I don’t believe the New York Times, for example, is more objective than us. They have their stand and we have ours. Our stand is to defend our nation’s interests. They might think we are being too nationalistic, but I think that is our personality.”

The West has long held Chinese media in derision, describing them as a puppet of the Communist Party of China (CPC). Recently, the BBC published an article describing China’s National People’s Congress, which commenced earlier this month, as a ‘farce’ propped up by a patronising and choreographed Chinese press.
But Yang, who had earlier acknowledged the presence of government censorship, believes allegations of a meek and docile press are simply exaggerations.

“For example, one of the most important sections in our parent newspaper company, Global Times, is our editorials,” he said. “We choose our own topic everyday. We don’t call the Chinese Propaganda Department to write our stories. We criticise and we praise. But if the government does not like what we have published, they contact us and we have to comply. So next time, when we write about it, we will take into consideration the government’s stance. It’s very difficult, but this is our job.”

Meanwhile, the editor noted that it has become increasingly difficult to make money from journalism. “Earning money through journalism is getting more difficult because everything is changing so fast,” he said. “Advertisers continue to make demands for a more qualitative and quantitative audience.”

The company augments its advertising revenue by consulting for government and corporate agencies, mostly offering translation services, while creating platforms that seeks to bridge the gap between government officials and the corporate world.

“We are the number one top brand of international news in China with a highly educated audience, including government officials,” Yang said. “So when we organise platform events, big business offer sponsorships and want to partner with us. In that sense, we are a platform for businessmen and officials; we are like a bridge between big business and government.

Huanqiu.com is an independent media company established in November 2007 under the approval of People’s Daily and China’s State Council Information Office, with investments from both People.com.cn and Global Times. According to Alexa’s statistics, the website ranks 49th in China, in terms of traffic and is the 318th most viewed website in the world.