A senior propaganda officer for the Communist Party of China (CPC) has urged greater collaboration between Chinese and Cambodian news outlets in advance of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit on Thursday.
Tuo Zhen, deputy chief of the CPC’s Publicity Department, told a media forum on Monday that journalists from both countries could work toward “the establishment of a bilateral exchange and communication network,” according to an article on the Fresh News website.
Representatives from Fresh News, the Khmer Times and Rasmei Kampuchea newspapers, and state radio and television outlets, met with senior leaders from eight Chinese state-owned media companies, including Xinhua News Agency, CCTV and the China Internet Information Center.
The outlets will cooperate to share “information materials, interviews, photos and joint broadcast[s],” the article said.
Pa Nguon Teang, head of the Cambodian Center for Independent Media, said that Chinese media set a poor example for Cambodian press freedom.
“China doesn’t have a history of creating or protecting free press,” he said. “There is also a concern if Cambodia media is more and more under the influence of Chinese media, because Chinese media is run entirely by the Communist Party.”
Reporters Without Borders ranked China last in its 2016 World Press Freedom Index of 176 countries, citing the CPC’s “total control” over media, harassment of independent journalists and stranglehold over blogs and social media.
However, Lim Chea Vutha, executive director of Fresh News, said that regular contact with Chinese counterparts would only strengthen local news and that he faced “no pressure” to represent China favorably.
“We keep in touch by any means…in order to easily exchange information,” he said on Tuesday, adding that the partnership would also include sharing content. “We can have their news and they also can news from us.”