The Associated Press has shot down a Chinese news story that claimed the AP would launch a social-media
partnership with China’s state-run news agency.
The story published by Xinhua reported “the world’s two leading news agencies . . . have agreed to strengthen
cooperation in social media.”
However, the AP’s Media Relations Director Paul Colford announced, “There is no social media sharing
arrangement planned between AP and Xinhua.”
Several netizens were outraged at the idea that the AP would use its social media presence to promote content
by a state-run propaganda outlet.
Still, others were much more skeptical of the story considering Xinhua’s reputation of exaggerating its stature.
China also has an odd relationship with US-based social media giants.
Access to websites like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube is blocked for Chinese citizens. However, Xinhua has
accounts on all three platforms in order to spread a positive view of China abroad. On Monday, Xinhua boasted
that it had nearly 1.5 million Twitter followers, more than 900,000 likes on Facebook and more than 48,000
Despite its reputation as a lip-service machine for the government, Xinhua has been struggling to portray itself
as a legitimate news agency.
In 2013, it even sponsored the World Media Summit. Media watchdogs criticized news organizations such as
the AP and Reuters for having taken part in the event.
“Xinhua News Agency is in a very difficult position,” said Jeremy Goldkorn, a longtime Chinese media watcher
and founder of the Danwei consulting firm. “While their key directive is to promote the Chinese government
view abroad and guide public opinion at home, they desperately want to be taken seriously as a global news
Xinhua has also been expanding its global presence. In 2012, the AP signed a contract with Xinhua allowing the
news agency to sell AP photos in China.
This month, AP CEO Gary Pruitt visited Xinhua president Cai Mingzhao and toured the agency’s headquarters.
However, Pruitt came home to a surprising memo from Xinhua as did other American media outlets.
The message read, “If you do a photo op in the headquarters of China’s state-run Xinhua news agency, be
prepared for some surprises.”