What Should China’s Spokesman Do?
Ministry of Railways spokesman Wang Yongping,
was dismissed recently by the Chinese authorities,
for his inappropriate comments regarding the recent
7．23 rear-end high-speed train crash.
This led to hot debates in all walks of life.
Media also focus on the occupation of spokesmen in China.
They questioned what was wrong with these spokesmen,
and what kind of spokesmen is needed by the authorities.
According to official news in mainland China, Wang Yongping,
Ministry of Railways spokesman and director of political
propaganda department was suspended, and will go to
Poland, as a representative of a Chinese railway company.
Previously, on a press release about the recent high-speed
train accident, in response to a reporter’s question
about how the Chinese authorities handled the accident,
Wang said arrogantly, “No matter you believe it or not,
I believed it, anyway." This has infuriated the people.
Voice of America’s report pointed out that
such inappropriate remarks are very common in China.
The article questions: what’s wrong with these spokesmen?
Lin Baohua, scholar of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP)
history told NTD the spokesmen actually speak for the CCP;
they cannot have their own independent thoughts.
They just speak on orders of the officials and government.
Lin Baohua: “He spoke for the interests of the Ministry of
Railways. But now people cannot be deceived as before.
So if the spokesman spoke in the same old manner,
then he would end up in trouble."
Facing criticism, Wang defended himself that he did what the
government needed him to do, and he “didn’t feel guilty."
Professor Hao Xiaoming: “As a spokesperson, you should
speak from a public point of view, the media’s point of view.
Then you will consider this issue more comprehensively.
It is not simply to say, I represent the government,
and speak to you, and explain it to you."
In 2003, the Chinese authorities concealed SARS epidemic,
which shocked the whole world.
In order to relieve the pressure, the authorities began to
hire spokesmen in large quantity.
They held the first training session for spokesmen in 2003.
Wang Yongping was one of them.
However, with the diminishing credibility of the government,
the people gradually become aware of their rights.
Spokesmen who survive in the gap between the government
and the people face an increasingly embarrassing situation.
Media professional Gao Yu: “The spokesman system was
set up to show an open attitude.
In the past, there were very few spokesmen,
who were only in the Foreign Affairs department.
Now various government departments seem to communicate
with people and the media, and be open to the public.
This event shows that (the CCP’s) propaganda is a failure."
Besides Wang, other the spokesmen performed
unsatisfactorily in the recent cases, such as
the ‘Forbidden City Geyao Case’ and ‘Guo Meimei scandal’.
Not long ago, Li Zhongjie, deputy director of the Central Party
History Research Center made rounds at a press conference,
reporters did not understand what he was talking about,
which also drew media criticism.
Some classified the spokesmen into different types: such as
‘no comment type’, ‘scripted type’, ‘self-defense-type’,
‘angry-type’, ‘feelings dislocation type’,
and ‘reporting only good news type’.
Li Zhaoxing, former spokesman of Ministry of Foreign Affairs
admitted that spokesmen are not ‘human beings’.
In May 2011, Henan University announced to establish a
program to train spokesmen, which will be the first in China.
The move attracted much controversy.
Some well-known media professionals said it would be
a harmful education to the students.
Some netizens said, “The spokesman program is for liars.
It teaches you how to lie and to deceive others."
NTD reporters Chang Chun, Li Qian and Li Ruolin