Xinhua News Agency

Xinhua News Agency
Xinhua News Agency
Type Broadcast radio, television and online
Country People's Republic of China
Founded 1931
Broadcast area Mainland China, Satellite, Internet
Area Mainland China
Official website Xinhua News Agency (English)

The Xinhua News Agency (simplified Chinese: 新华通讯社; traditional Chinese: 新華通訊社; pinyin: Xīnhuá tōngxùnshè, IPA: [ɕínxwǎ]; English: /ˈʃiːnhwɑː/, US dict: sheen′·hwah, literally "New China News Agency") is the official press agency of the government of the People's Republic of China (PRC) and the biggest center for collecting information and press conferences in the PRC. It is the largest news agency in the PRC, ahead of the China News Service. Xinhua is subordinate to the PRC State Council and reports to the Communist Party of China's Publicity and Public Information Departments. Xinhua's headquarters complex, the "pencil building", is at No. 57 Xuanwumenxi Street. It's website or is headquartered on the twentieth floor of the Dacheng Plaza (大成大厦 Dàchéng Dàshà) in Xicheng District, Beijing.[1]

Xinhua employs more than 10,000 people, operates 107 foreign bureaus worldwide, and maintains 31 bureaus in China—one for each province, plus a military bureau. 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 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 4 June, 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 bureaux in Hong Kong and Macau were replaced with appointees who were "loyal to the mainland" rather than those with ties to either Hong Kong or Macau.[5]


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 easily because of the appeal and resources of other newspapers and periodicals and the greater glamour of television and radio jobs.[citation needed] For example, mid-level reporters for the Xinmin Evening News in Shanghai are often given an apartment, whereas at Xinhua and People's Daily this benefit is reserved for the most senior journalists.

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-servicing businesses.


Today, Xinhua News Agency delivers its news across the world in six languages: Chinese, English, French, Russian, Spanish, and Arabic, 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 and web site. 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 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 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 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. One example was the first reports on the SARS outbreak by Xinhua which only government officials were allowed to see.[9] 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 that 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.

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. There are more than one hundred Xinhua affiliates.

Xinhua in Hong Kong

Xinhua's branch in Hong Kong was not just a press office. It was named a news agency under the special historic conditions before the territory's sovereignty was transferred from Britain to the PRC, because the PRC did not recognise British sovereignty over the colony, and an embassy or consulate cannot be set up within what it considered its soil. Until 1997, it served as the de facto diplomatic mission of the PRC in the territory. 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 18 January 2000. The State Council appointed Gao Siren (高祀仁) as the director in August 2002. After renaming as liaison office, a Xinhua Agency which is a true press office was set up.

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.[10]

Xinhua online

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


In 2001, Hong Kong-listed media company Sing Tao News Corporation Limited invested in joint ventures with Xinhua News Agency to set up a market information Web site and offer audio and visual services planning and consulting.

Tantao News

In its drive to globalize its content and reach new audiences, Xinhua has entered into a partnership with CNEWSCO, LLC, an apolitical American company. A key element of the relationship is the editorial freedom CNEWSCO enjoys to select and publish Xinhua multimedia content under a new brand Tantao. The Tantao Global News Network focuses on providing global news coverage on a variety of topics and perspectives originating mainly from Chinese news and media sources. Content is aggregated, published and syndicated from major Chinese news organizations including the Xinhua News Agency, Shanghai Media Group, China Central Television America, and others sources.


Bloomberg Businessweek commented on the opening of Xinhua Finance, saying that it would have to overcome the "Xinhua stigma" of being associated with "official propaganda", and suspicions by outsiders of its credibility.[11] In an interview with Indian media in 2007, the head of Xinhua, Tian Congmin, affirmed the problem of "historical setbacks and popular perceptions".[12] 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".[13]

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 in as more transparent and credible as Xinhua journalists operated more freely.[14][15] 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".[16]

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,[17] with commentary from CNN calling Chinese leaders "goons and thugs". CNN later apologized for the comments,[18] 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.[19]

See also


  1. ^ "Contact Us." Xinhua. Retrieved on August 17, 2011. "Head Office  : 20F, Dacheng Plaza, 127 Xuanwumen St. (W), Beijing" - Address in Chinese: "北京宣武门西大街127号 大成大厦" (Map)
  2. ^ a b c Pares, Susan. (2005). A political and economic dictionary of East Asia. Routledge. ISBN 978-1857432589
  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 978-1567504620
  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 978-0810117877
  6. ^ Glasser, Chris & Winkler, Matthew. (2009). International Libel and Privacy Handbook: A Global Reference for Journalists, Publishers, Webmasters, and Lawyers. Bloomberg Press. ISBN 978-1576603246
  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 978-0804740562
  9. ^ The Economist, "Chinese whispers: Not believing what they read in the papers, China’s leaders commission their own ", June 19th, 2010, p. 43.
  10. ^ New office building of Xinhua Middle East regional bureau opens in Cairo 2005/11/26
  11. ^ Bloomberg, Reuters--and Xinhua?, BusinessWeek, February 17, 2003
  12. ^ Q&A: 'Our credibility is doubted to a certain degree', Times of India, September 28, 2007.
  13. ^ Fish, Isaac Stone; Dokoupil, Tony (2010-09-03). "Is China's Xinhua the Future of Journalism?". Newsweek. Retrieved 2010-09-05. 
  14. ^ Quake coverage 'testing China's media credibility', Radio Australia, May 16, 2008
  15. ^ Quake Moves Xinhua Past Propaganda, Newser, May 13, 2008
  16. ^ China to spend billions to boost media credibility, Radio86, March 10, 2009
  17. ^ Commentary: Biased Media Reports Reveal Credibility Crisis, Xinhua, March 26, 2008
  18. ^ China: CNN Apologizes Over Tibet Comments
  19. ^ Spencer, Richard (2008-03-28). "Bias over Tibet cuts both ways". London: The Sunday Telegraph. Retrieved 2010-09-05. 

External links

Coordinates: 39°53′55.55″N 116°21′54.83″E / 39.8987639°N 116.3652306°E / 39.8987639; 116.3652306

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