Creating a Stable Foundation for ASEAN and China
Second ASEAN-China Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Information
15-17 September 2010, Beijing, China
by Herminio B. Coloma
Secretary, Presidential Communications Operations Office, Philippines
On behalf of the Filipino People and our President, Benigno Aquino III, I would like to express my warm greetings to my fellow Ministers from ASEAN and China and other delegates present here.
I would like to thank you, Mr. Chairman and the people of China, for your generosity and the warm reception and hospitality you have extended to us in this beautiful city of Beijing.
This event is most propitious as we are also observing this year the 35th anniversary of Philippine-China diplomatic relations. The early history of Philippine-China economic relations showed that as early as the 10th century, direct and regular trading and cultural contacts with China were noted extensively in large parts of the Philippine archipelago and neighboring South East Asia. Since then, the Chinese have played an important role in the Philippine economy.
Over the years, political understanding between China and the Philippines has vastly strengthened. Trade and investment opportunities have increased; cultural exchanges and people-to-people contact have broadened. Today, China is the Philippine's third largest trading partner and continues to be the fastest growing market for Philippine exports.
Last August 9, we also observed the 43rd ASEAN Foundation Day, and in his speech during the occasion, President Benigno Aquino III, emphasized our commitment to fostering ties with our ASEAN neighbors. He emphasized: "We will be a good neighbor, a productive partner, and a consensus-builder as we work towards our common goals."
President Aquino also affirmed our country's abiding desire to build a people-oriented regional community in ASEAN through three key pillars, namely: Political Security, Economic Development and Socio-cultural Harmony.
Toward this end, we are firmly supporting the ASEAN connectivity project which will bring us closer to each other and open more economic opportunities for us. This project hopes to create an ASEAN connectivity Masterplan that consists of sectoral body plans in transport infrastructure, energy power grids, tourism and, most importantly, information and communications technology.
While China and the countries in ASEAN have made rapid strides in economic development, we face common challenges in safeguarding the fundamental interests of our countries and peoples, in preserving and carrying forward our values and cultural traditions, and in promoting our mass media's power of discourse in the global arena.
It is this context that we see the need to further improve coordination and mechanisms, expand existing channels, and focus on continuing self-improvement, to attain enhanced leverage in harnessing the fullest potentials of the mass media of communication in the international arena.
The signing in 2008 of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between China's Information Office of the State Council and ASEAN Member States on Information and Media Cooperation established a solid foundation for the strengthening of cooperation in the fields of information and media, as well as in enhancing partnership amongst all of us.
While we may have achieved significant gains, much more needs to be done. We must promote media exchange and co-production of programs, as well as in marketing, showing and distribution of films and television programs.
We must continue supporting media professionals and government officials in reciprocal visits, exchanges and training.
We must engage ourselves in regular discussions and dialogues about emerging and highly dynamic developments in broadcasting and television, media policies, technological advances in the media industry and other issues to ensure that we are all able to keep abreast with new trends and innovations that exert significant impact on the ways in which we are able to communicate effectively in our global village.
In the first conference of the ASEAN-China ministers responsible for Information, the Philippines proposed two projects - the setting up of a China-ASEAN community of journalists and a dedicated China-ASEAN website. In addition, the Philippines will be coordinating an ASEAN-China Meeting of Film and Television Archives under the approved Work Plan for Information and Media to provide exchanges of film and television programs.
To build a stable foundation for information and media cooperation, we have to create a community of ASEAN-Chinese journalists with a strong sense of regional solidarity and identity.
Media practitioners in various fields should start to get to know their counterparts more closely through people-to-people contacts which could take the form of exchange visits, attachment and training programs and the like.
Exposure to each other should include awareness of each other's media environment, understanding of each other's culture and thorough grounding on ASEAN perspectives.
By boosting cooperation and collaboration among the media-related institutions and organizations, we can enhance the capacity of media professionals and thereby make them more effective participants in regional-community building.
Training in specialized coverages and reporting on various fields of ASEAN concerns such as the economy and the environment, and other key areas may have to be organized to provide our journalists the skills and perspectives necessary in bringing the "good news" of ASEAN-China cooperation to our publics and stakeholders.
The establishment of a community of ASEAN-China journalists should ensure the efficient exchange of materials, consultations, co-production arrangements, other beneficial media and information activities among our countries.
Corollary to the building of a community of ASEAN-China journalists, we need to ensure the continuing availability of significant source materials to be used in the development of multi-media materials for the projects. With the internet's inherent accessibility to most, a dedicated website or web portal on ASEAN-China cooperation could be designed to complement the existing ASEAN website which is hosted and maintained by the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta.
While the ASEAN Website is very useful in providing official documents, pronouncements and information on programs and projects in general, the dedicated website on ASEAN-China cooperation should be advantageous in a more specific way. As envisioned, this website will contain updated information on the projects and serve as a one-stop information on ASEAN-China cooperation.
The website may also carry multi-media materials produced by ASEAN-China journalists on the programs and projects as well as ideas, suggestions, and feedbacks from the public. It can also incorporate an interactive database of reference or background materials to enrich and deepen media reporting on ASEAN-China concerns.
We in the Philippines have a "junior version" of such website. It is an official website we just developed for the Office of the President that provides a feedback mechanism wherein people - not only from the Philippines but from all over the world - can stay connected to the President and air their views. It is an enabler wherein people - wherever and whatever race you may be - can send a message to our President or any of his staff.
Our approach to new media reflects the current trend in the use of available technology which is to engage and empower citizens not only in the online world but also offline. The website has been developed in the belief that people support what they create. The website will be a partnership wherein content will be a shared responsibility between the President, the different government agencies, and the people.
It is also interesting to note that the Philippines through the Philippine Information Agency led the founding of South East Asia Pacific Audio-Visual Archive Association (SEAPAVAA) among the ASEAN Member states in 1996 together with Australia and New Zealand as ASEAN Dialoque partners. Since then the Philippines spearheaded the development of AV Archiving in the region. SEAPAVAA is now internationally recognized and enjoys an operational relation with UNESCO.
The involvement in AV Archiving is based on the belief and assumption that information, whether current or of the past should be readily accessible to all our citizens. This has to do with identity and development of one's nations. As such preservation and access to information, in whatever AV format, is a concern of information in ASEAN and the world.
By the way China is a strong if not one of the leading supporters of UNESCO's Memory of the World Program which deals with the preservation and Access of documentary Heritage. Documentary heritage could include films, TV materials, print, books, stones/rocks/bamboo with inscriptions,websites, frescoes, etc.
There are great prospects and huge potentials in media cooperation between China and ASEAN. We should therefore link more closely, work together and make concerted efforts to enhance peace, development, cooperation and prosperity of this region.
Just how important regional cooperation in communication is, one well-loved Chinese proverb explains it simply: "Tell me and I'll forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I'll understand."
Xie-Xie and good day to all.