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Making a new start: from journalism to a new career

ICE    Public:ICE    Datetime:2009-5-9
Once he was a journalist.; now he is preparing to set up a better foundation for the journalists of the future.

Once he was an official spokesman; now, after facing the toughest questions and surviving the "flying arrows" for years, he is going to bring us much more than just to digging out valuable information from the mouth of a spokesmen.

Once he was one of the best-known mainland officials speaking directly to the people of Taiwan; now he has undertaken a new role of opening wider the window of cross-strait communications.

A man of vast experience, he is also like a child seeking the essence of campus-life with limitless curiosity and boundless enthusiasm.

His appointment to the position of setting the direction for a newly created School in XMU has launched him on a new career.

On June 6, 2007, Mr. Zhang Mingqing, the former spokesman of the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office and a newcomer to XMU, was officially appointed as the first Dean of the School of Journalism and Communication, a memorable day for anyone who had spent part of his or her life in the Department of Journalism and Communication. The Department had been founded the year after XMU, then disappeared for a while only to reopen in 1983. It has now been made a School. A major factor was that XMU is the nearest mainland university to Taiwan, and its pre-eminence in cross-straits research and the availability of close links with experts on Taiwan affairs forms a natural platform from which to build a distinctive School of Journalism and Communication.

As an authoritative voice representing the Chinese government´s position on Taiwan affairs, Zhang Mingqing was well known on both sides of the Taiwan Strait. He was concurrently Vice President of ARATS (the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits) and the Editor-in-Chief of Cross-strait Relations, the journal published by ARATS. All this made him an icon of cross-straits communication, so there was no surprise at the news that he was to become the Dean of the SJC, it merely attracted considerable attention.

From official spokesman to professor is a big change. However Prof. Zhang has taken it in his stride. Most people are principally aware of his official status and pay scant attention to the fact that he had been an excellent journalist on the People´s Daily for many years before he became the spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office. His own perception of this great change is rather different but sound. "Universities tend to emphasise what might be termed the "software" side; that does not only depend on teachers of high quality and high-level research of high level, but it also means well-educated students and good social resources. My lifelong experience as a journalist has given me an appropriate background and ability to guide. I bring other social resources to XMU. That is the key. People like me bring intangible assets to universities."

Already, He has already set up in his mind strategies for the development of the School: to recruit more famous journalists and journalism scholars is of prime importance; to extend international co-operation and enhance the whole platform for practical experience for the students; and finally the question of cross-straits Communication, making good use of his network of resources and deep understanding to position the school with increased crossstraits co-operation as well as active academic research. "For me the School of Journalism and Communication comes first; my two other positions are now complementary. My role changed the moment I came here." With a career deeply rooted in journalism, he is delighted to find another way of promoting it *that of cultivating more qualified journalists. As a result of hard work, the first edition of his Taiwan Media Research has been submitted for publication and Mr. Xiong Delong, the President of the International Daily News has been added to the list of XMU´s visiting professors. Remarkable changes are taking place every day ...

To Zhang Mingqing, academic research forms the backbone, while good academic research is based on advanced ideas. "Creative and original thinking should be respected. Agency news is overused nowadays; it has caused great harm to journalists in general." His frankness is accompanied by anxiety, "Laziness and ideology are detrimental to objectivity." Stereotypes represent the loss of objectivity, which is particularly the case in cross-straits communication. "I believe we should cover new areas in the future, areas such as lifestyles, our legal environments and medical treatment ... the peoples of both the Mainland and Taiwan cannot live simply on a diet of political issues every day." Better communication depends, after all, on better understanding.

But this constitutes only a half of his vision. There exists another important area for exploration, that is the essence of campus life. And this sexagenarian pursues it with the boundless energy of youth. It is amzing to watch Zhang suddenly take up his notebook and read out the precious words he has transcribed from every source he has read on the subject of "university". His eyes shining, he reads out slowly and clearly, "The keys to a university are its spiritual existence and cultural existence ... a school should enhance its students´ talents ..." It is like watching an elegant grandfather clock with ancient classical decorations, redolent of dignity and wisdom, but with each cog inside still running smoothly.

"For each of us life lays out a path with many different intersections." "The key is how to seize your chances and make the right choice."

This is undeniably true of Zhang Mingqing, at least twice. The link between Zhang Mingqing and journalism was the result of a series of coincidences, with each choice he made bringing it one step closer.

In 1978 Zhang Mingqing was assigned to the publicity department of a stateowned factory in a small town in Fujian province.

He could have led a quiet and peaceful life there, which may have been enjoyable, but would have lacked excitement.

One day, while he was on his way home from a political meeting, the town was hit by a sudden rainstorm which changed the course of Zhang Mingqing*s life. To get out of the rain, he took shelter in the office of a friend. There they got into a long conversation while the rain poured down apparently with no end in sight. While there, he picked up the Fujian Daily, in which there was an advertisement recruiting postgraduate students for the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, but he thought nothing of it.

However, a few days later, he bumped into his friend, who told him that he had already enrolled, and encouraged Zhang Mingqing to try.

Although he originally thought of it only as a joke, Zhang Mingqing finally decided to give it a go. This time he struck gold and was admitted to the Department of Journalism of CASS. So began his life as a journalist.

On graduation, Zhang Mingqing was assigned to work for the People´s Daily as a journalist. After 12 years there, another stroke of luck came his way, when he was invited by Wang Zhaoguo, the Director of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, to become his spokesman. The rest, as they say, is history .

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