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Xinhua News Agency

The Xinhua News Agency (新华社, pinyin: Xīnhuá-shè) is the official press agency of the government of the People's Republic of China and the biggest center for collecting information and press conferences in the PRC with a rank of class A among the world wide news agencies. It is an institution of the State Council of China. Xinhua means "New China".

It is one of the two news agencies in mainland China; (the other one is the China News Service).


The Xinhua press agency was started in November 1931 as the Red China News Agency and changed to its current name in 1937. It began broadcasting to foreign countries in English from 1944.

The headquarter of Xinhua is located in Beijing. Xinhua News Agency established its first filiale abroad in 1948. Now it distributes its news in Asia, Middle East, Latin America, Africa where run the superior offices; in Hong Kong, Macau and many foreign countries and districts. It has more that one hundred Xinhua’s filiales.

Today, Xinhua News Agency delivers its news across the world in 7 languages including Chinese, English, French, Russia, Spanish, Arab, etc., as well as news pictures and other kinds of news. It has made contracts to exchange news and news pictures with more than eighty foreign news agency or political news department.

Unlike the People's Daily, which is an organization of the Communist Party of China rather than of the PRC government, Xinhua rarely offers editorials, but rather passes through speeches by government officials. Its position set as a platform of receiving and distributing the information all over the world and thus it covers the world news, live news and exclusive reports. (source: [1])

In 2001, Hong Kong-listed media company Global China Technology Group Ltd invested in joint ventures with Xinhua News Agency to set up a market information Web site and offer audio and visual services planning and consulting.

Xinhua in Hong Kong

Xinhua’s branch in Hong Kong was not just a press office. It was named a news agency under the special historic conditions before China resumed the territory’s sovereignty from Britain. Until 1997, it served as the de-facto embassy of the PRC in the territory. It was authorized by the Special Administration Region government to continue to represent the central government after 1997, and it was renamed The Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong SAR on January 18, 2000. The State Council appointed Gao Siren (高祀仁) as the director in August 2002.

As suggested by the name change, Xinhua's present role is mainly about liaison with the broad spectrum of groups and associations in Hong Kong, or what is known as "united front" work in the terminology of the Chinese Communist Party.

According to some press reports in Hong Kong, the Liaison Office was under pressure from Beijing after the July 1 mass protest in 2003. Beijing officials reportedly criticised the Liaison Office for its inaccurate assessment of the public sentiment in Hong Kong during that period.

The former Hong Kong headquarters of Xinhua in Wan Chai was vacated in 2001, when the office relocated to Sheung Wan, and sold in September 2002. The 23-storey building will be converted into a four-star hotel with 480 rooms. Located at 387 Queen's Road East, the 1970s building had been Xinhua's home for more than 20 years.

Previous Directors of Hong Kong Xinhua

Xu Jiatun (許家屯) headed the Hong Kong branch of Xinhua until 1990, when he fled to the United States amid accusations that he sympathized with Beijing students during the 1989 Tiananmen Square Crackdown.

Xu angered Beijing when he comforted Hong Kong students who staged a hunger strike outside the Xinhua office in support of the pro-democracy movement in Beijing in 1989. Years after, he joined to appeal for a reversal of the official verdict that the demonstrations were a "counter-revolutionary rebellion".

Zhou Nan (周南) succeeded exiled Xu Jiatun as the director of Xinhua in Hong Kong after the 1989 Tiananmen Square Crackdown. Zhou henceforth played a key role in the 13-year Sino-British argument on the handover in 1997.

During the hostile years, Zhou named Hong Kong’s last governor Chris Patten as a 'sinner of a thousand years'. He said Patten had committed 'three violations', referring to Patten's political reforms, branded by Beijing as a breach of the Joint Declaration, the Basic Law, and understandings between the two sovereign nations.

Zhang Junsheng (張浚生), former Xinhua vice-director, was brought into the agency by its former Hong Kong director, Xu Jiatun, in 1985. He was one of the few pre-1989 staff to survive the post-Tiananmen purge.

For 13 years, he was one of the few Xinhua officers who enjoy publicity by building up contacts in the film and arts world as the agency's cultural attaché.

His most famous manoeuvre was to repeat criticism of the Bill of Rights made in confidence by then-chief justice Sir Ti Liang Yang. Zhang also openly called Hong Kong’s last governor Chris Patten a liar. He accused Patten of trying to create chaos in the civil service by undermining its neutrality.

Xinhua in Macau

A Xinhua News Agency branch was set up in Macau in 2000. The News Department of the Xinhua News Agency Macau Branch, a working organ sent by the central people's government of the PRC, is responsible for gathering news. The latter was renamed the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Macau SAR.

See also: Media in China

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