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BRNN holds 1st council meeting, sends stronger voice on BRI initiative

China (Global Times) -- As the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) gains in popularity and also faces challenges, a news network alliance has been formed and is expected to offer clearer, more accurate and stronger voice on the initiative.
On Tuesday, the first council meeting of the Belt and Road News Network (BRNN) was held in Beijing. It comes two days ahead of the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF), scheduled from Thursday to Saturday in Beijing.
The BRNN is among efforts to implement the proposal of Chinese President Xi Jinping at the first BRF in 2017 to boost people-to-people exchanges.
So far, 182 media organisations from 86 countries have joined the network, and the number is likely to rise, Li Baoshan, president of the People’s Daily, said at the Tuesday meeting.

Representatives from council member media outlets of the Belt and Road News Network (BRNN) pose on Tuesday after signing a joint statement during their first council meeting in Beijing.   --Photo Li Hao/GT

The network will display the unique advantages of media and build an open and cooperative platform to promote communication and understanding among people from countries along the routes of the BRI, said Li.
The BRNN council includes 40 influential media organisations from 25 countries.
Media connectivity is an important part of the BRI because people-to-people connectivity is not possible without media-to-media connectivity, Sarmad Ali, president of the Pakistan-based Jang Media Group and GEO Television Network, told the Global Times.
“I believe that it’s a really important event, because media around the world, not only in Asia, but also from Africa, North America and other continents, all come together,” Thonglor Duangsavanh, director general of Lao Press in Foreign Languages, told the Global Times.
Participants at the first BRNN council meeting also highlighted the network’s mission to present the truth about the Belt and Road Initiative.
“I think it’s very important for media to come together to set up a platform with one voice, because the biggest problem is that the Western media has a negative perception of the BRI and creates doubts on the efficiency of projects under the BRI,” Ali told the Global Times.
The news network could counter such a perception and provide an objective and positive narrative so that the people of Pakistan will know the real picture. It can create a dialogue with global audiences to let people know how the BRI will change their lives, Ali said.
Mansour Abo Alazzm, managing editor of Egypt’s Al-Ahram newspaper, told the Global Times that “there’s very few accurate information about the initiative outside China because most of the information foreign countries get is from Western news media.  “We need to know more about China’s development, social life, culture, civilisation and so many other things, and we need to know them from Chinese authors and experts,” he said.
Alazzm said he always took Western media’s reports on China cautiously. “I wonder why the Western media always focuses on the negative side and never reports about positive news, such as the Islamic culture centre and other culture centres.
“Why? Because it’s accurate and we want unbiased information.”
“Being the only English newspaper in Indonesia, we rely so much on information related to the BRI from the Western countries, but sometimes our view and values differ from the views promoted by the major Western wire services,” said Taufiqurrohman Mohamad, deputy chief editor of the Jakarta Post in Indonesia.
Fabian Frydman, deputy general director of the French newspaper La Provence, told the Global Times on Tuesday that not many French people really know what the initiative is, while such media exchange platforms could offer accurate information to stop “fake news”.
The biggest “fake news” about the initiative or China is that the country does not want to collaborate. But this is not true. China wants to work together with others and France could also work with other countries under the initiative, he said. In the eyes of media veterans, the network is also a platform where more accurate and unbiased information could be better voiced, especially from developing countries.
“There have been  a lot of lies about what happened in my country and Latin American countries, and as a media outlet, we need to have a strong voice to tell the real situation about our country,” Sanjuana Martínez, director general of Mexican news agency Notimex, told the Global Times.
Participants noted that the network also offers a chance for media to learn and grow from each other’s strengths when the public has more diverse demands for information with technology development.
To better achieve this goal, closer cooperation between Chinese and foreign media is needed, as well as regular activities like journalist trips, seminars, conferences and workshops that involve different forms of media, such as television, newspaper and others, they said.
A platform to grow
The BRNN launched its website and an information aggregation and distribution mobile platform, which enable its members to upload and share their news items, and facilitate their cooperation on news products in a more direct and convenient manner, read a joint statement released during the meeting.
The BRNN will put forward initiatives for more activities in terms of media dialogues, exchange of news products, media personnel and technology, including the Media Cooperation Forum on Belt and Road, the Silk Road International News Award, joint reporting trips, journalists workshop, and news archives and databases, said the statement.
“The network provides a place where we can speak together and know who we are, what we need, and what we can do for each other,” said Frydman.
“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 Martínez.
Shahiduzzaman Khan, executive editor & chief news editor of  the Bangladesh Financial Express, told the Global Times that “promoting economic and cultural cooperation and bringing success to the world would be the goal of the new platform we have launched today.”
“Bangladesh will also benefit a lot. Our government is also trying to find some ways to promote friendship and invite investment into the country. I think within this platform we can also cooperate with the member nations to promote investments in our countries. Every nation could benefit,” said Khan.

(Latest Update
April 25,

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