Dunhuang, China — The media can help deepen stories about the Belt and Road Initiative to reach all countries and consolidate efforts for a share growth and development, international media experts have said.
They were speaking at the opening of the 2017 Media Cooperation Forum on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) on Tuesday in Dunhuang, Gansu Province in the north west of China.
The international journalists stressed the significant role the media can play in advancing the prospects of new the globalization strategy proposed by the Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The media cooperation forum, which brings together journalists from 265 mainstream media organizations from 126 countries, is organized by People's Daily, the Communist Party of China (CPC) official news media.
"People to people exchanges need to go a long way and in this area, media should play an irreplaceable and greater role in principle which would enhance sharing of news and build articles reservoir of Belt and Road," said Yang Zhenwu, President of People's Daily - the country's most influential news organ.
The media cooperation forum is the largest "most influential" international media forum hosted by China and this year's event is expected to boost cooperation between Chinese and foreign media as the country enhance its people-to-people exchange as part of the Belt and Road Initiative which was officially launched May this year in Beijing.
"We can exchange our reports and website contents to enhance the integration of the Belt and Road media reports."
"We will continue to build a multi-level and multi-media database of pictures, audio, videos contents, the sources of news, scope of outreach, and the audience base of Belt and Road," said Yang, who also stressed the establishment of a think tank to focus on policy research for the BRI.
The media cooperation forum comes amid mix media reports, mainly by western media, about the Belt and Road Initiative.
While the China-led plan decipher a message of mutual share benefits of trade and economic cooperation amongst developing nations, critics see it as a conduit for Beijing to solidify its geopolitical dominance and find a market for the country's huge steel deposit by building railways and infrastructures in developing countries.
However, media practitioners from top outlets in the United Kingdom, Pakistan, United States, Russia, Spain, Nigeria, Mexico, and Egypt amongst others attending the forum say it is important to support the BRI that "provides a new outlook for different countries".
"Opportunities like these help us to deeper understanding of media organizations about key China developments," said Otis Bilodeau, Bloomberg News Asia Pacific editor, who said his organization is attending the forum for the third straight year.
"For our perspective, this (Belt and Road) is a critically important initiative for the entire world."
"The Belt and Road covers an area that includes about 50 percent of the world's GDP and roughly the same share of global trade," he said.
Bloomberg news has covered China's Belt and Road on many fronts across global multi-media platforms and will continue to do so with vigor, Bilodeau said, adding that his firm has the "responsibility to examine and report the Belt and Road with accuracy and fairness".
Guy Zitter, Senior Advisor of Daily Mail and General Trust, the UK largest newspaper publisher.
"We need to make sure the world understands the benefits of the Belt and Road."
"We need to educate the world in doing that because it's in all of our interests that we create more trade, we create more global prosperity and this provides the platform for better communication and better understanding," Zitter said.
This forum enhances cooperation in the community of media across the world, added Masood Malik, Managing Director of the Associated Press of Pakistan.
Malik said the initiative provides solution to the chronic problem of unemployment facing the world", so it is important for the media help provide interpretation.
Solving Common Media Problems
Another journalist of Ireland's biggest media group said as lingering problems threatening the sustainability of traditional media become visible, sharing knowledge amongst media would help solve the problem through innovation of new media.
Stephen Rae said international media cooperation through the Belt and Road initiative helps remove barriers for of future of traditional and new media.
"Figuring out how to maintain strong media brands and ensure quality in journalism will be an enormous challenge for the best new media companies in the world," Rae said of the media's future challenge.
"I believe the role of this forum is instrumental in helping increase the understanding and cooperation amongst media organizations and also provides the decision makers including media the chance to scout ideas, collaborate and solve the common problems we face," he said.
'Coherent Africa Strategy'
Olusegun Adeniyi of This Day, Nigeria's largest newspaper, called for a "more coherent Africa strategy for all sectors on the continent to demonstrate how the BRI can create more space for everyone at the table".
He said transparency, accountability, responsiveness and openness must be considered in delivering the gains for the benefit of the respective peoples.
"This is where the media comes in by enlightening the various public on the real goals of the BRI," Adeniyi said.
"We as journalists should be urging to promote the good of society because the more diverse you make information available on the issue the more social progress it makes."
He called on People's Daily to play leadership role in strengthening media cooperation and "use its new media tools to bridge the gap that exist between media organizations and their various audiences" to help them understand what the BRI seeks to ensure by expanding infrastructure, growth and development across the countries.