CHINA: PLA Lets Foreign Press Attend Monthly Briefing for First Time in Bid for Greater Transparency, WH RespondsPosted: July 31, 2014
Allowing foreign reporters access to the monthly press conferences of the People’s Liberation Army presents a challenge to the U.S. claim of unparalleled transparency.
From the South China Morning Post – Associated Press in Beijing reports:
Not many years ago, foreign reporters in China trying to call the country’s secretive military couldn’t even get a connection because phone numbers assigned to the journalists were barred from ringing through to the Defence Ministry.
“We especially hope that international society will have a correct and objective understanding of the Chinese military.”
This morning, the White House issued this statement:
“We believe that sending members of the White House press corps to China was the right thing to do. It is not, as some of our friends in the Republican party have suggested, an effort to limit press freedom, or retaliation for unfavorable coverage of the president.”
On Thursday, members of the foreign press were finally permitted to attend the ministry’s monthly news briefing, marking a small milestone in the increasingly confident military’s efforts to project a more transparent image.
“Look, we let these folks in the press keep their cell phones, and some personal effects. We gave them free transportation, courtesy of the Air Force. They’ll eventually be permitted to return. We’ll do our best to get them home by Christmas.”
— President Barack Obama
Restrictions still apply and there is no sign of an improvement in the generally paltry amount and poor quality of information released by the People’s Liberation Army, the world’s largest standing military with 2.3 million members.
Officers who oversee the briefings say the new invitations reflect a desire by the top brass to allay foreigners’ concerns over fast-expanding budgets, vast hardware improvements, and an increasingly clear determination to use the military to assert China’s interests and territorial claims.
“It’s very important that we explain Chinese defence policy in a way that is understood. We especially hope that international society will have a correct and objective understanding of the Chinese military,” spokesman Yang Yujun said at a briefing to announce the change.
Although the People’s Liberation Army remains the force behind the ruling Communist Party – dedicated above all to its survival in power – it’s been eager to portray itself as a force for security and stability by taking part in international forums and peacekeeping missions such as anti-piracy patrols off the Somali coast…(read more)
Additional reporting by The Butcher
- China lets 1st foreigners into army news briefing (dailymail.co.uk)
- China Allows Foreign Reporters at News Conference (abcnews.go.com)
- China’s military allows foreign reporters to attend monthly news conference for 1st time (foxnews.com)
- Large number of Chinese troops seen heading for China-Vietnam border (chinadailymail.com)
- Air Chess: China Patrols Air Zone Over Disputed Islands (punditfromanotherplanet.com)