BANGKOK — Five media agencies in Thailand on Wednesday signed a news sharing agreement with China’s state mouthpiece Xinhua, bringing the number to at least a dozen.

The MOU signed today allows the Thai media organizations to publish news content, videos, and photos from Xinhua free of charge. A Thai media guild representative on Wednesday hailed the growing partnership as a step forward to bring more information about China to Thai audiences.

“Thai media would receive news directly from a Chinese news agency, instead of a second hand information from Western media only,” Thai-Chinese Journalists Association chairman Chaiwat Wanichwattana said at a roundtable discussion. “This kind of cooperation is most welcome.”

The 12 known signatories of Xinhua’s news sharing program include news organizations and websites like Voice Online, Manager Online, Sanook, INN, Thailand Today, state broadcaster NBT, and Matichon Group, which owns Khaosod English.

A representative from Bangkok Wealth & Biz signs an MOU with Xinhua. Image: Thai-Chinese Journalists Association

Two Facebook pages about China, Shoot2China and UnderstandingChina, are also part of the program.

Added to the list today were MONO29, Business Today, Bangkok Wealjth & Biz, Smart SME, and MThai. Khaosod English also extended its existing agreement with Xinhua, which would have expired late this year, to 2020.

Xinhua isn’t the only Chinese news outlets with such cooperation in Thailand. English-language news site The Nation, for instance, publishes content from China Daily because they both belong to a larger news sharing partnership called Asia News Network.

Xinhua Bangkok bureau chief Ming Dajun said he’s often asked by his agency has been building closer ties with Thai news organizations. Ming said the aim is to promote more understanding about China among Thai public, especially at a time Thailand is welcoming up to 10 million Chinese tourists and home to multiple Chinese businesses.

“If all of our news about Thailand in China were translated from Western sources, Chinese people wouldn’t have loved and understood Thailand this much,” the editor said.

Thai editors present at today’s meeting said they have seen an uptick of interest in China’s domestic affairs since the partnership. Bhuvadej Chirabandhu, an overseer at news site Sanook, said at least 1.4 million readers have read Xinhua content posted there, citing internal traffic data.

“They like to read about interesting things in China,” Bhuvadej said.

Chaiwat, the Thai-Chinese media guild director, said he hopes a better knowledge about China would help Thais achieve equal footing with its superpower neighbor.

“We must coexist on equal dignity,” Chaiwat said. “We may be smaller, but any cooperation must be achieved on a win-win basis.”

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