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Beijing launching a 'Chinese CNN' to burnish image abroad

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"The strength of our voice does not match our position in the world," complains Yu Guoming, deputy dean of the journalism school at People's University in Beijing, who has acted as a consultant on the government's TV project.

"That affects the extent to which China is accepted by the world," Professor Yu adds. "If our voice does not match our role, however strong we are we remain a crippled giant."

An international opinion poll last year by the Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C., appeared to support that conclusion. In only seven of 23 countries surveyed did majorities express favorable views of China, and the long-term trend is toward more negative attitudes.

News you can use – to influence

Chinese officials are well aware of the role their media might play, if successfully deployed, in boosting Beijing's "soft power" around the world.

In a speech last month, the Communist party's top ideology official, Li Changchun, was blunt. "Communications capacity determines influence," he said at a celebration of China Central Television's (CCTV) 50th birthday.

"Whichever nation's communications capacity is strongest, it is that nation whose culture and core values spread far and wide and ... that has the most power to influence the world," he said.

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