BRI media network held 1st council meeting to boost cooperation, exchanges

The Belt and Road News Network (BRNN) First Council Meeting, hosted by the People’s Daily, was held in Beijing on 23th of April. The council includes 40 influential media organizations from 25 countries. BRNN has signed up 182 media outlets from 86 countries. 
Chinese President Xi Jinping on 23th of April sent a congratulatory letter to the Meeting, expecting the platform to further boost people-to-people exchanges and promote the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to provide more substantial results for the people.
Participants at the council meeting said that they were very inspired by the Meeting, and stressed that the network serves as a chance to present the truth about the BRI.
Information cluster  
It is a shared mission for many media outlets to better introduce and promote the development of the initiative.    
Information is power and the network could help gather more opinions and information from various sources, and we expect more exchanges and agreements to be signed under the network, said Sanjuana Martínez, director general of Mexican news agency Notimex.
Former Pakistan journalist Javed Akhtar called for a mechanism for wider cooperation between media. He said a long-term and stable news cooperation mechanism is expected to tell the stories of the BRI well.  
Fernando Garea, president of Spain’s Agencia EFE, also praised the idea, and expressed an interest in the alliance. He agreed with President Xi’s comment on the news network’s role in creating a sound atmosphere for public opinion. He explained that the news network has the opportunity to make a more big deal about things that are related to innovation and interest of cooperation under the BRI as well as things with regard to what is the meaning of the BRI.
Nicolau Santos, president of Portugal’s Agência Lusa, said the agency is willing to participate in the mechanism to jointly cope with challenges that traditional media face with the development of technology.  
The BRNN has finalized its bylaws and work plans. Its members and council members cover Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America, Middle East and Eurasia, including major countries along the BRI routes.
The People’s Daily has promoted cooperation among media from different countries using various approaches, such as hosting round table meetings between Chinese, Japanese and South Korean journalists and media trips for influential Chinese and Russian media outlets. It has signed MOUs with 39 media outlets in 28 countries to boost information and resource exchanges.     

Dzmitry Zhuk, director and editor-in-chief of Belarus Today Publishing House, said that readers of their newspaper and website are interested in China-related news and the website has started a section to publish such stories.    

Inside connections
While attending the fourth Media Cooperation Forum on Belt and Road in 2017, some foreign journalists said that the trip made them realize that China’s development in economy, science and technology is way beyond their imagination.  
To better facilitate inter-media connection, the People’s Daily has been hosting the Media Cooperation Forum on Belt and Road for five years in a row since 2014.
The largest one had attracted 265 domestic and foreign media outlets and institutions, as well as guests from 126 countries and international organizations.
Xi’s letter shows the BRNN is certainly not temporary, but a long-term and significant cooperation platform. The forum is a platform for international media to have dialogue and seek cooperation. It is also a bridge to boost understanding and communication of different cultures, said Pavel Negoitsa, general director of Russian newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta. 

Jacqueline Lampe, CEO of RNW Media in the Netherlands believed the BRNN can play a joint important role in positioning the BRI from a very neutral perspective and make sure that European people understand what the purpose is and how China can contribute to building a better world while reducing misunderstandings. 

Common challenges  
Taufiqurrohman Mohamad, deputy chief editor of The Jakarta Post, said that the news alliance is expected to have an irreplaceable role. It will facilitate media connection and exchanges so that the initiative could have a bigger influence and attract wider participation, he said.
The senior journalists noted that the BRNN is an international and open organization that highlights coordinated efforts and mutual assistance among members. It is expected to uphold the spirit of openness, cooperation, inclusiveness and win-win results to boost exchanges and clear misunderstandings. 
Inter-media cooperation has been thriving in the past five years. The television program The China Connection, co-produced by the South Africa branch of and a local media affiliated with the Tiso Blackstar Group (formerly Times Media), attracted wide attention among local residents.  
The cooperation between the South Africa branch of and local media TimesLive also helped broadcast breaking news in China through websites and apps in South Africa.  
Meanwhile, members of the BRNN will also exchange content and reports and develop new technologies to help members jointly cope with challenges faced by traditional media.  
“We are delighted that this council has been established,” said Iqbal Survé, executive chairman of South Africa-based Independent Media.
“It once again demonstrates the commitment of the Chinese government to a global integration which leads toward peace and harmony in the world, and the council is an important step in that direction,” Survé said.
By People’s Daily and Global Times staff reporters

Representatives of Media from different countries in the Signing Ceremony of the Belt and Road News Network (BRNN) First Council Meeting. (Photo by Xu Ye from People’s Daily

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