Laos, China play key role in Mekong media unity

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - The Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism and China’s People’s Daily have completed the mission of hosting the Mekong-Lancang Cooperation Media Summit in Vientiane, and the state agencies will be remembered as outstanding facilitators for helping media organisations in finding ways to enhance their cooperation. 

The two Lao-Chinese state agencies were able to highlight attention on a number of issues that regional media organisations must be aware of, including the need to cooperate in building regional trust, and mutual understanding and respect.

Another key message that the regional media received from the international conference is that there was a need for them to enhance cooperation in maintaining their values in an age of media transformation.

This message reminded mainstream media organisations from the People’s Republic of China, Kingdom of Cambodia, Union of Myanmar, Kingdom of Thailand, Socialist Republic of Vietnam, and the Lao PDR that regional media cooperation is essential.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the summit, the Head of the Party Central Committee’s Propaganda and Training Board, Dr Kikeo Khaykhamphithoun, stressed the need for the regional media to boost cooperation.

“This regional media cooperation will make a significant contribution to the creation of peace and friendship, which will create favourable conditions for each country to develop and become prosperous, civilised and sustainable,” he said.

A top Chinese delegate at the summit, Mr Huang Kunming, also stressed the need for the regional media to maintain and enhance cooperation at the opening ceremony.

“A Lao proverb reads that a single stick cannot make a fence. It is impossible for a nation to be prosperous without contribution from citizens,” he said in his speech at the opening ceremony.

Mr Kunming, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China’s Central Committee and Head of the Party Central Committee’s Publicity Department, stressed the need for the regional media to cooperate not just in building trust, confidence and mutual respect, but also the need to strengthen their operational capacity.

He said the Chinese government will be happy to lend its support to regional media to enhance their operational capacity so that they will be in a better position to operate and make significant contributions to regional security and development.

He added that he understood that the regional media should be part of stakeholders driving change and transformation in the Mekon-Lancang region and the the regional community, which shares a vision of prosperity.

At the Mekong-Lancang Cooperation Media Summit, representatives from the regional media were invited to join two discussion forums; Consumption Upgrading and Tourism Development.

The panellists agreed the media in the region should help each other to promote the regional tourism industry, adding that the spread of information will boost exchange of regional tourists and people-to-people contacts.

 Another topic to discuss in the forum is Core Value and Media Transformation. They also agreed that in the age of media digitisation, media in the region must maintain their core value of being a source of reliable information so that people can use them as a reference when making critical decisions.

They agreed that although social media or digital media are fast in terms of reporting news, some of these channels provide inaccurate information known as “fake news” and therefore it is the obligation of mainstream media to correct them.

Other panellists said it was time for the mainstream media to adjust themselves to cope with the changing operating environment, adding that instead of viewing social media platforms as an enemy, they should make use of this technology.

 They said the mainstream media should use modern technology so that they will be in a position to maintain their media market share.

Currently, the regional media are facing a substantial decline of subscribers and advertisement revenues, one of the key elements that can secure the survival of the mainstream media in the region.

Digital media, particularly social media, has been advancing in the share of the regional media market over the past few years. If this situation continues without an intervention, there is a high possibility that the traditional mainstream media will sooner or later become financially bankrupt.

In these circumstances, the regional media sees the need to enhance cooperation so that they can find ways to improve themselves.

A Lao media official, who took part in a media training course held as part of the summit, said China has advanced technology that can be shared with its Mekong media peers. There are a lot of thing that others can learn from China’s media so that they can remain competitive in the age of the media digitisation.

Media organisations from Laos, Cambodia, China, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam have been aware of the need to cooperate in maintaining peace and supporting regional development, but they also need to join hands to upgrade so that they can catch up with changing technology.

The acknowledge of this cooperation will be impossible without the Mekong-Lancang Cooperation Media Summit, for which Lao and China play as the co-host and facilitator of the international conference. 

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