Zaobao.com 'a symbol of Singapore's soft power'

The website of Lianhe Zaobao has helped Singapore's leading Chinese-language newspaper become an important symbol of the Republic's soft power, a prominent Chinese thinker said last night as the online portal marked its 20th anniversary.

Professor Han Fangming, chairman of the Charhar Institute foreign policy think-tank, said the Zaobao.com portal was a major factor in spreading the daily's influence across geographical borders.

"Its role in reporting on the authentic side of China has helped Lianhe Zaobao transcend its original positioning as a city paper and gain the support of Chinese readers, especially the middle-class group and intellectuals," he said at a gala dinner in downtown Beijing to thank readers and stakeholders for supporting Zaobao.com.

"It has also become one of the few overseas Chinese media with immense influence and is a key symbol of Singapore's soft power," said Prof Han, the vice-head of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, China's top political advisory body.

Among the estimated 170 guests were Mr Stanley Loh, Singapore's Ambassador to China, and Mr Anthony Tan, Singapore Press Holdings' executive vice-president of the Chinese Media Group.

TRANSCENDING BORDERS

Its role in reporting on the authentic side of China has helped Lianhe Zaobao transcend its original positioning as a city paper and gain the support of Chinese readers.

PROFESSOR HAN FANGMING, Charhar Institute chairman, on the Zaobao.com portal

Mr Loh said Lianhe Zaobao did well in China over the past two decades thanks to its high-quality, responsible and objective reporting.

Zaobao's website was set up on Aug 15, 1995, making it the first Chinese media in the world to go online, said Mr Goh Sin Teck, editor of the paper. Today, it averages four million page views a day and has 10 million unique visitors a month, with 85 per cent from China.

Mr Goh said Lianhe Zaobao has constantly sought to improve content and delivery to keep pace with changes in technology and readership. Zaobao online was the first Chinese media in Asia to launch a mobile app compatible with the Apple Watch.

Lianhe Zaobao and several Chinese universities presented the inaugural International Chinese Media Interactive News Awards last night. Students from Guangzhou's Sun Yat-Sen University clinched the Best Interactive News - Gold Award for an interactive feature on the impact of interest rate cuts by China's central bank.

Said Zaobao.com editor Zhou Zhao Cheng: "We believe (the awards) will raise the bar for quality interactive news journalism for Chinese media worldwide."

The 20th anniversary celebrations will culminate with a gala dinner in Singapore on Aug 14.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 29, 2015, with the headline 'Zaobao.com 'a symbol of Singapore's soft power''. Print Edition | Subscribe