China will never have its voice heard on the international stage unless the government loosens its tight grip over the media and film industry, the CEO of the country's No. 2 Internet portal said Wednesday.
Charles Zhang, the often outspoken chief executive of Sohu.com Inc, told a forum in Beijing that plans to create global Chinese media giants were doomed to fail if the government did not relax controls.
Chinese newspapers and television stations completely lack meaningful competition, and have no independent personality ... so they have no authority or respect, Zhang said, according to a transcript of the speech posted on the company's website.
If the Wall Street Journal or New York Times report something, the whole world pays attention, and believes it, he added. China's right to speak in the world is totally lacking because it has no media organizations which can win respect.
China has tried to get its voice heard more globally mainly via the English-language channel CCTV-9, but has achieved little success despite pouring money into the venture.
The ruling Communist Party has prescribed a mix of commercial reforms and continued state control and censorship for the media and publishing sectors, while drawing a red line under issues directly challenging key policies.
China also wants to harness commercial forces to create media that can project Chinese ideas and values to a changing public and a wider world.
Zhang said these reforms risked creating media companies with no competitiveness, a tiger's head with a snake's tail -- a Chinese expression meaning to start well but end poorly.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Sugita Katyal)