China news agency to add Irish bureau


CHINA’S STATE-RUN news agency Xinhua will open its first Dublin bureau later this year, part of a global expansion by the country’s most powerful media organisation and the propaganda arm of the ruling Communist Party.

“My news agency is the first Chinese media organisation to set up a permanent office in Ireland,” said Xiong Sihao, an experienced correspondent who has previously reported from Africa and will be the bureau’s chief correspondent.

Xinhua has its headquarters in Beijing and has 123 bureaus around the world. It employs 4,000 journalists.

“The intention to open this bureau is to increase our news gathering capacity in Ireland and seek closer co-operation with Irish media,” said Mr Xiong.

The bureau is to open later this year, once various visa and logistics issues have been resolved, and Mr Xiong said Xinhua would be looking to employ local journalists, especially on the rapidly expanding TV side.

He said the opening of the Dublin bureau “comes at a time when Ireland and China have a close and friendly relationship which is growing all the time”.

Echoing similar views from within the Chinese leadership, he said he admired Ireland’s transformation from one of the poorest to one of the richest European countries. Chinese business people are known to take a long-term view of Ireland’s economic prospects.

“China should learn from the Irish development experience as Ireland turned into a highly advanced country in a period of just over 20 years,” Mr Xiong said.

Until now, Xinhua has covered Ireland from its bureau in London.

Xinhua has been busy expanding its reach in recent months, and Chinese media chiefs have made no secret of their ambitions to create a Chinese version of Reuters or Bloomberg. The Beijing government has laid out a multibillion-euro plan to create a global media empire to better reflect the country’s rising economic and diplomatic power and more effectively communicate its views to an international audience.

In July, Xinhua opened a 2,000sq m office on Times Square in New York. The agency has also set up CNC World, a 24-hour news channel.

At a time when most media outlets are facing cutbacks, China’s expansion plans are striking. China Central Television, which is probably the world’s biggest state-run television channel, has also been adding programmes in English, Spanish, French, Arabic and other languages.

The English-language China Dailyhas been growing in sophistication and was recently relaunched, while the Global Times, the English-language version of the Communist Party’s official newspaper, the People’s Daily, is also boosting its profile.