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Danwei talks to Caijing about the public's right to collect information

AXL090701Caijing.jpg
Li Xin, English editor at Caijing

Caijing magazine has a formidable reputation in Chinese media circles. They reported straight away when the Green Dam "delay" notice came from Xinhua last night, and has held onto their reputation for hard, investigative reporting.

Although they talk about current events such as chief Hu Shuli's editorial on the Green Dam, Caijing is a leader in financial analysis. They are also developing an English-language news agency service.

Danwei interviews Li Xin, who is an editor at the English and international desk. She is responsible for Caijing's English website, and sometimes reports on international affairs.

Between 2006 and 2007 She was Caijing's correspondent in Washington DC, covering Sino-US relations, politics and finance.


Danwei: What were you doing before going to Caijing?
Li Xin: I was a documentary producer for Rediscovering China at CCTV-9.

Danwei: Caijing has a reputation for using tough and investigative journalism. What are you most proud of covering, and which stories do you wish you can report?
LX: Currently my responsibility is overseeing the English desk, involves limited original reporting. Back in 2006 and 2007 when I was Caijing's correspondent in Washington DC, I enjoyed writing an in-depth piece of Chinese companies lobbying in the states. They just started to learn the game in DC, paying a dear price. In the failed CNOOC-Unocal deal, the Chinese firm spent US$ 3 million in 3 months on lobbying and PR, but its image just couldn't be changed overnight.

It takes more than money to cultivate trust, to convince Americans that Chinese investment isn't intimidating, especially to those who fear "waking up to find a Communist under their beds." Instead it can be a purely commercial decision. Chinese firms need more time. They need a deeper understanding of the country they are investing in, and they need the effort of more than one company on more than one deal. Later on, a number of Chinese firms set up their lobby representatives in DC, and afterwards, we have seen overseas investment deals being crafted more skillfully, such as in the Huawei-3Com case and this year's ChinaCo-Rio Tinto case. The results, of course, are another story.

I also had lots of fun working with my colleague in covering how several Chinese businessmen selling a much-inflated "silicon valley high-tech product" to a land-locked Chinese province and finally the business went belly up. It was so tranquil between 06-07', and I missed the historical presidential election and the financial crisis.

Danwei: This is the month when everyone is talking about the Green Dam, the limiting of Google services and the internet in China. I hope you don't mind me asking you some questions about these issues. First, do you think that the Green Dam will have any benefits for anyone?
LX: There must be someone who benefited commercially from the Green Dam, say, the software developer. But it hurts the public's right to collect information, sets a bad example of opaque procedure in drafting and implementing administrative rules, and damages the government's image, both at home and abroad. We do hope public opinion has an influence on the government's decision-making. The delay is a step in the right direction, but it's not enough.

Danwei: What news do you think there will be in the Chinese media come July 1, regarding the implementation of the Green Dam?
LX: We just heard that the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology delayed mandatory installation of the Green Dam. The debate will go on. Of course we are curious if that delay is temporary or permanent, will they modify the current Green Dam or switch to another filtering software with clear description of what kind of information it will filter; and how the public will view the delay. Foreign governments may press the Chinese government to let go of the idea. I don't think they will succumb, but they will certainly listen.

Danwei: On the issue of Google - some of whose service has been suspended in the China mainland, and with reporting that there has been regional blocks in China - do you think that China is right to limit Google's service?
LX: I don't think it's right to limit Google's service. Again, the general public deserves the right to collect information. It's a basic right.

Danwei: How useful do you think English Caijing articles are to Western China watchers?
LX: Reading an in-depth article from Caijing is always a good learning experience for me. I think it would be the same to Western China watchers who are looking for unbiased, serious journalism in China.

Caijing's articles are based on hard facts and data, which readers can use ot make their own judgments. We let the facts speak for themselves, especially on certain sensitive topics.

As a journalist I take pride in working for Caijing. The balance of our writing comes from not merely relying on "he says, she says," but a belief that stories we cover have complexity, have many nuances and twists. By presenting the many layers and different stakes of people involved, there is a natural balance.

We are lucky to work for a magazine with the luxury of a two-week deadline. Also, now we have a website for posting stories in real time. It's a lot of fun. I know Caijing's focus this year is building on the website and raising our profile in the English-language world.

Danwei: Which foreign newspapers or magazines do you like to read in your spare time? Do you ever let them influence the way you report?
LX: I follow New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times and Der Spiegel's English version. They might have influenced the way I present my story -- inverted pyramid, nut paragraph, clear background information etc. But they won't change my way of reporting, nor any editorial judgement.

I guess journalists who read Caijing are also for the information we collect on their behalf, and to know our perspective. I never dreamed that we can influence how they think or report.

There are currently 8 Comments for Danwei talks to Caijing about the public's right to collect information .

Comments on Danwei talks to Caijing about the public's right to collect information

Speaking as a Western China watcher: Caijing's articles are very useful. They've influenced and informed my work.

Anyway, good interview ... I only wish it were longer!

Dear Adam: The length is somewhat missing - I think she's a very busy woman and I didn't follow up with questions seeing as I thought the answers were substantive enough. If we had gone with a Twitter interview, which was suggested by the managing editor of Caijing, Wang Shuo, it could have been even shorter (the interview was, had it happened, with Wang Shuo).

I'll see if we can get any more Caijingers for future posts.

once again danwei has it's finger on the pulse. timely interview. thanks.

This young lady is the future of China's media and even "leadership". She seems well educated, enlightened and well informed.

Where is it in China they crush hopes, spirit and originality so that people like her conform with the Oil Slick Heads to get higher positions and "better" jobs within the system?

May she be the exception...

This post has been altered slightly as I added some more detailed responses from Li Xin.

Tsk tsk, LoveChinaLongTime. That's straight from the Punch & Judy school of political analysis. Nice vs Nasty.

Though it will be interesting to see what happens as more people with what you might call "Western exposure" move up the system, it mustn't be forgotten that there are a few in there already. And there's a big generational thing at work.

very good interview.clear point.

Just because she charges more than 50cents doesn't mean that she is anything but yet another commie propaganda mouthpiece.

If she is Chinese, it's safe to assume that she is either lying or brainwashed.

I never cease to be surprised by the countless pandahugging saps who keep drinking the communist party kool-aid.

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