By Akhmad Kusaeni
Deputy Editor-in-Chief of ANTARA, the Indonesian National News Agency
Ladies and Gentlemen,It gives me a great pleasure to come to Tianjin and to participate in this important “The 1st 10+3 Media Cooperation Forum”. I wish to express my gratitude to “People’s Daily” for hosting this forum and giving me an opportunity to meet media people from 10 ASEAN member countries and China, Japan and Republic of Korea.
In this forum, I believe, we can share our views and perspectives on how to push ahead the cooperation among media of 10+3 countries, enhance mutual understanding of East Asian countries and help build a harmonious East Asia.
Theme of this forum –Strengthen Media Cooperation, Deliver Asian Voice- is absolutely relevant with the current situation where Western media are still dominates the world media market.Developed countries, which have one seventh of the world population, have dominated two thirds of the total information flow.
About 80 percent of the international news broadcast everyday comes from Western news agencies. It is not right that Western news agencies control the agenda of the media in a continent with two-thirds of the world’s population, or 3.7 billion people.“The world is not flat,” I quote Liu Jiang, deputy editor-in-chief of Xinhua News Agency, on the facts that the world is in a reality a slop on which information flows downward from developed countries to developing countries and regions. “It is not a new world information order, but it is an information imperialism,” I quote Felix Soh, deputy editor-in-chief of The Straits Times, on Western dominance of the worldview .Yes, my friend, it is not right for Western news agencies to control information on Asia.
It is no fair for Western media to dictate what they wish to cover and how they should cover the news in Asia, our very own backyard. It is not fair they call the shot and set the agenda on what story should or should not appear in the headline of Asian media.I do agree with Mr. Soh that their reportage often contain “inherent prejudices and misconceptions” about the region. It had been influenced by Western cultural bias, sullied by political bias and coloured by ideological bias.
Ladies and gentlemen,We must resist Western domination of the worldview. We must fight the information imperialism. Developing countries, including those in Asia, have called for establishing a new order of spreading information since the 1960s when they were fighting against an unfair information control by the Western developed countries. And yet, the imbalances and differences of information flow between the developing and developed countries have not been narrowed by disputes for decades.
Until now, there is a gap within the world information flow. And that is why the world is not flat.So, it is time for us to challenge Western domination in reporting regional events with objective, fair and comprehensive coverage. The Asian media must report on Asian themselves. Asia is our home. We know exactly what happens in our backyard. We know better than parachute journalists from Western media who come to our country for a week or a month, and then they claim to be expert on Asian issues.
It is an irony, but it is the reality.Asian media must convey Asian opinions and strive to end disequilibrium in the global media where the loudest voices are of Western origin. We as Asian media must be heard. We need to strengthen media cooperation and together deliver Asian voice on international arena.
The image of Asia depends on how the world media describe it .Ladies and Gentlemen,How the Asian media deliver and strengthen Asian voice on international arena?The answer is we should seek active participation in world events and cooperate more on the coverage of regional news.
By exchanging news, joining hands in editing and sharing beats of report, Asian media would have broken the monopoly in reporting prominent regional events.
To quote recommendation from the annual conference of the Boao Forum for Asia (April 2007), Asian media should bear responsibility for reporting “a harmonious Asia” with “a harmonious Asian image” and provide a value of “harmonious region” to tell the world a real Asia.Our fine traditions and fruits of our civilization can be disseminated to the rest of the world through Asian media. Thus, the media in 10 ASEAN members’ countries and China, Japan, and Republic of Korea are in great need of better communication and co-ordination so that Asian affairs can be covered by Asian reporters while world affairs can be commented on from an Asian perspective.That means Asian media should enhance exchange and cooperation so that the largest continent in the world has a stronger voice in the international arena.
The media in 10+3 countries can work together with various ways.First, the media circle in Asia should step up high-level dialogues at different levels and between various media agencies, such as printed media, radio and television stations, and also journalists associations.Such dialogues and exchanges are playing an important role in enhancing mutual understanding and trust and developing constructive and cooperative relations between media communities. Second, the media circle in Asia should intensify exchanges and cooperation in all fields, such as news exchange and personnel.
For instance, China news agency, Xinhua, has news exchanges agreement with ANTARA, the Indonesian national news agency. Xinhua and ANTARA are also cooperating in exchanges personnel and do some work together such as photos exhibition. This kind of agreement and cooperation should extend to other media organization, including press and journalists associations. In term of news agency, we have organization and mechanism for cooperation such as ASEAN News Exchange (ANEX), Non Aligned News Agencies Pool (NANAP) and Organization of Asia Pacific News Agencies (OANA). (As for your information, ANTARA news agency will take over the Presidency of OANA this year.
On 10-13 December, 2007, we will have OANA General Assembly in Jakarta. Around 500 delegates from 33 members countries will be participate in OANA seminar on how to voice Asia Pacific voice in international arena.) We, all participants of this Forum, should make recommendation that the 10+3 countries media set up the same mechanism or organization which is not limited to news agencies, but to all media institution.
We can name it “The 10+3 Media Pool” or ANEX+3 or else as we wish.Confederation of ASEAN Journalists (CAJ) and Association of China, Japan, and Republic of Korea Journalists should also increase dialogue and cooperation on various issues from fellowship to seminar and from personnel to news exchanges. ASEAN journalists travel to China, Japan and Korea, should increase in the future as well as China journalists visit Southeast Asian countries.
The cooperation and exchange promotion among media is always an important means to improve understandings and friendship between peoples. That is why I really appreciate People’s Daily which has maintained friendly exchanges with many ASEAN newspapers such as Nhan Dan of Vietnam, Thai Rath of Thailand, Lianne Zaobao of Singapore, and so forth.I also appreciate the cooperation of 14 national newspapers in Asia under Asian News Networks (ANN). Its members come from 10 countries and have a combined daily circulation of more than 12 million.
By this mechanism, Asia newspapers publish each other’s news items. It allows, for example, The Jakarta Post of Indonesia to publish an article from Yomiuri Shimbun on the same day it appears in the Japanese newspaper.It is not enough anymore for people to rely on Western-owned news agencies and newspapers for events in Asia. By establishing news networks, ANN wants to give Asia an Asian voice. ANN would provide a platform to promote an Asian perspective. It is an umbrella for Asia’s many points of view. Third, media circle from 10+3 countries should address differences on the basis of mutual respect and seeking common ground while shelving differences. Asian media should perform what so called “press diplomacy”. For instance, China and ASEAN media should seek common ground on the sensitive issues, such as the questions of Taiwan.
Taiwan has always been the most important and sensitive issue at the heart of China-ASEAN relations. Properly handling these questions is the key to promoting our constructive and cooperative relations.ASEAN journalist should report this problem on the basis of the question of Taiwan is China’s internal matter. It should be resolved by the Chinese people on both sides of Taiwan Straits.
Indonesia, for example, has been committed to the One-China policy. We believe that Beijing and Taipei must work out their disagreements peacefully between themselves, in a acceptable manner to the people on both sides upon the Taiwan Straits.Ladies and Gentlemen,Finally, let me make conclusion. In the 21st century, China, Japan and Republic of Korea will have a powerful influence, not only in the Asia Pacific region but also in international arena. China, Japan and South Korea, as part of the world’s fastest-growing economy, will have a stronger economic partnership with Southeast Asian countries. It is our duty as media people in the 10+3 countries to support this harmonious cooperation between China, Japan and South Korea and ASEAN countries. Because, that would be good for the members of 10+3 countries, good for the Asian region and good for the whole world. Thank you. Xie xie.