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06BANGKOK5705 EYE ON AMERICA? – CHINESE MEDIA IN THAILAND

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“78533”,”9/15/2006 9:50″,”06BANGKOK5705″,

“Embassy Bangkok”,”SECRET”,”06BANGKOK5705″,

“VZCZCXRO4169

RR RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHGH RUEHHM RUEHNH RUEHVC

DE RUEHBK #5705/01 2580950

ZNY SSSSS ZZH

R 150950Z SEP 06

FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1669

INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE

RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE

RUEHCHI/AMCONSUL CHIANG MAI 2443

RULSDMK/NSA US WASHDC

RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI

RUEHIN/AIT TAIPEI 8707

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC”,

“S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 BANGKOK 005705

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/14/2016

TAGS: OPRC, PREL, PGOV, CH, TH, ASEAN

SUBJECT: EYE ON AMERICA? – CHINESE MEDIA IN THAILAND

 

BANGKOK 00005705 001.2 OF 003

 

Classified By: Political Counselor Susan M. Sutton,

Reasons 1.4 (B) (D)

 

1. (C) SUMMARY. Representing television, radio and print

media, six Mainland Chinese press outlets are present in

Thailand. Each organization\’s mandate varies, but all have

small staffs and budgets. Most reporters do not speak Thai

and English appears to be their working language. While the

Guangming Daily prefers to report on Thai cultural and

special interest pieces, the Xinhua News Agency is attempting

to secure a foothold in providing hard news in Thailand

through its multimedia database. CCTV (China Central

Television) covers only official Chinese visits and \”sudden

developments\” in the region. Several of the newspapers have

inserts in local Thai newspapers while the CCTV provides

video feeds to a Thai news channel. These media outlets are

also keenly focused on strategic US engagements with ASEAN

and the SEA region. End summary.

 

THE PLAYERS

———–

 

2. (SBU) There are six Mainland Chinese media outlets in

Thailand — Xinhua News Agency, China News Agency (Zhongxin

She), People\’s Daily News Agency, Guangming Daily Media

Group, China Central Television (CCTV), and China Radio

International (CRI). Of these, Xinhua News have been in

Thailand the longest, established here in 1975. While larger

operations such as Xinhua News have country bureaus in every

ASEAN-member country except Laos, Bangkok is the regional hub

for smaller, one-person operations such as Guangming Daily.

(Note: For comparison — AP, AFP, Reuters and Kyoto all have

large regional offices in Bangkok. CNN, BBC, Star, NHK and

Australian Broadcasting Corporation have television

facilities. End note.)

 

3. (C) Chinese staff all positions in these outlets, sent

from their headquarters in Beijing. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX,

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX for XXXXXXXXXXX told Poloff that

there is no Thai staff in his office because \”there is no

budget.\” XXXXX reporter, XXXXXXX explained that the

Chinese media have adopted the \”one-man reporter/cameraman\”

concept for its overseas operations to save cost. XXXXXX

reporter, XXXXXX, said that he was sent overseas because

he could \”film, interview and produce segments on his own.\”

 

4. (C) While a few of the reporters speak Thai, most of the

journalists use English as their working language. As a Thai

speaker, XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

explained that \”the number of Thai speakers in China are so

few that you can count them with your fingers\” because most

universities do not offer Thai language courses.

 

THE GAME

——–

 

NUMBERS VARY

 

5. (C) Mandates for the media outlets vary vastly, as do

their monthly output quotas. While small operations like the

Guangming Daily are asked to produce five monthly articles,

Xinhua sources claim that their office produces upwards of

300 news items a month. XXXX of XXXX explained that, unlike

XXXXX, XXXX international department is still relatively

young. XXXX two-men office in Thailand is asked only to

travel with Chinese delegations during official visits and to

cover \”sudden developments\” in the region such as natural

disasters. The number of news pieces produced thus varies

from month-to-month.

 

TOPICS VARY

 

6. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX Xinhua currently has more than

100 branch offices in over ninety countries with a mandate to

report on news-worthy items across the spectrum. (Note: For

comparison — Reuters has 196 bureaus in 130 countries and AP

has 240 bureaus in 130 countries. End note.) Interestingly,

a frustrated XXXXXXXXXXXX told Poloff that because

newspapers such as Guangming, Xinhua and People\’s Daily are

state-owned (under the Chinese Propaganda Department), they

are asked to \”refrain from writing political and economic

pieces,\” since it may be \”misconstrued as official PRC views\”

on the subject. Instead, XXXXX’s editor asks him to produce

stories on Thai culture and \”feel-good\” special interest

pieces, which, he commented, are hard to find.

 

BANGKOK 00005705 002.2 OF 003

 

COMMENT

 

7. (C) XXXXXXX’s claim that his office reports on all aspects

of news – politics included – in Thailand starkly contrasts

with XXXX’s assertions. XXXXXXXXXXX number of

over 300 news items a month reported also appears exaggerated

given the bureau\’s three-person operation. One possible

explanation may be that the office includes individual

photographs and short items as new stories to bolster their

numbers for their bosses in Beijing. End comment.

 

MULTI-MEDIA: WAVE OF THE FUTURE

——————————-

 

8. (C) Despite the large number of required news items, the

XXXXXXX at Xinhua seemed more interested in selling the

Xinhua Multimedia Database (http://info.xinhua.org/eng) to

the Thai public (Comment: and to Poloff) than to talk about

their reporting responsibilities. XXXXXX proudly informed

Poloff that his database now boasts \”over a hundred household

subscribers.\” Yet with the goal of catching up to major wire

services such as the Associated Press (AP) or Reuters, XXXXX

admitted that \”there is still a long way to go.\”

 

OTHER COLLABORATIONS

——————–

 

9. (C) Xinhua has been relatively successful in promoting

its multimedia outlet in Thailand. Not only do the six local

Thai-Chinese newspapers (including the Taiwanese-owned

Universal Daily News) all take feeds from Xinhua, XXXXX

claimed that it also powers most of the cell phone

news-update engines in Thailand. (Note: Xinhua\’s Database

also takes feeds from AP and Reuters. End note.)

Separately, several local newspapers carry weekly inserts

from People\’s Daily and China Daily.

 

10. (C) XXXXXXX told Poloff that Channel 9 in Thailand

(Note: State-owned, nightly news broadcast viewership around

2 million. End note.) is also working with a branch company

of CCTV to work on collaborative \”special focus\” programming.

Their last special was on the Thai King\’s Jubilee

Celebrations. In addition, XXXXXX mentioned that there have

been plans to create a Chinese-Thai Channel in the works

since last year between CCTV and a local Thai channel,

although he did not elaborate on the details. XXXX explained

that the Thai want to collaborate with CCTV because \”they

want CCTV\’s satellite access both to the world and within the

PRC.\” \”Imagine the increase in viewership,\” XXXX added.

 

EYES ON AMERICA

—————

 

11. (S/NF) Other than reporting on Thai news and

establishing a \”soft-power\” presence in Thailand, the Chinese

media here are also keenly interested in US involvement with

the ASEAN countries. XXXXXXXXX asked Poloff not

to mention their meeting to other Chinese nationals before

leaning over and bluntly informing Poloff that,

strategically, China\’s presence in Thailand is to \”keep a

close eye on the US.\” XXXX asserted that China has been

concerned with the US \”change of attitude toward ASEAN,\”

including the recent signing of the ASEAN-US Enhanced

Partnership agreement. XXXX stated that China believes this is

a strategic move to \”counterbalance the PRC\” in the region.

 

12. (S/NF) XXX suggested that China has \”double insurance\”

for maintaining influence in Thailand — China\’s increasing

involvement in the Thai economy and the large number of

ethnic Chinese-Thai who hold wealth and political power in

the country — and therefore is not overly concerned with

losing influence in Thailand. In fact, XXX added that Chinese

strategic policies \”tend to be passive elsewhere unless it

concerns America, Taiwan, or the oil-producing countries.\”

XXXXX also suggested that India is becoming a new concern for

China for various reasons including recent Indian offers to

help safeguard the Malacca Strait.

 

13. (S/NF) COMMENT: XXX’s assertions, though extreme at face

value, appear to be in line with post\’s own observations of

both Chinese diplomats and members of the PRC media in

Thailand. Although engaging and forthcoming, Chinese

 

BANGKOK 00005705 003.2 OF 003

 

diplomats are rarely interested in the minutiae of Thai

politics and are much more interested in US involvement with

ASEAN, in particular the ASEAN-US Enhanced Partnership and

the ASEAN-US Dialogue that took place earlier in May. The

Chinese media\’s curiosity is even more obvious. PRC

reporters swarm to US military functions — such as the

opening ceremonies of the Cobra Gold exercise or ship visits

like the recent port call of the USS Abraham Lincoln. For

example, six reporters from Xinhua showed up for the opening

of the Cobra Gold exercise last year despite Xinhua only

having three reporters on staff in Bangkok. While these

reporters were not \”misbehaving\” in any way, their attention

seemed to be more focused on taking photographs of the

machinery and headshots of US officers present than with

filing any news stories. End comment.

ARVIZU

 

Written by thaicables

July 13, 2011 at 5:45 am

Posted in China, Secret

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