In the autumn of 2013, President Xi Jinping proposed the great prospect of the BRI for the first time during his visits to countries in the Central Asia and Southeast Asia. The initiative has attracted wide attention from all sectors of the society inside and outside China once it was proposed.
As an important subject to disseminate the BRI, the media shoulders the important responsibility of reporting in an objective and justice manner and enhancing the dissemination effects. The media is a mirror reflecting the B&R in various aspects such as the construction achievements and the win-win idea. According to the data provided by the Belt and Road State Information Big Data Technologies Co. Ltd under the State Information Center, by the end of 2018, there have been over 670, 000 pieces of media reports on the B&R in China and there have been over 10, 000 articles issued per month.
In 2014, the BRI started to hit headlines in the media. At that time, the media mainly introduced the initiative from such perspectives as the Spirit of the Silk Road, the background of the proposal, and the connection between the initiative and the ancient Silk Road. In 2014, the BRI was named as one of the Top Ten News by Xinhua News Agency. haiwainet.cn the overseas version of People's Daily commented that the B&R has gained fame and success worldwide.
In March, 2015, with the release of Vision and Actions on Jointly Building Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st--Century Maritime Silk Road, there has been a climax in the media reports. In April, 2015, central major news media started to propel the reports on the B&R and organized reporters to interview and report in certain places inside China and countries along the B&Rroute.
In 2016, with the pragmatic promotion of the BRI, the focus of the media started to transform into the key programs. Projects such as Gwadar Port Free Zone, Jakarta-Bandung Railway, CHEC Port City Colombo, and Great Stone China-Belarus Industrial Park have become the focus of the media.
In 2017, there was a booming in the reports on the B&R. During the First Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, there have been 126, 000 pieces of media reports, which broke the records. And the monthly average volume of reports in the year of 2017 also ranked the first in the past few years.
In 2018, the reports of the B&R remained popular and the four main diplomatic activities held in China throughout the year have become the focus of the reports on the B&R.
By analyzing the hot words in the reports, it can be concluded that connectivity, economic development, and economic and trade cooperation have become key words in the reports on the B&R, which also again proves that the BRI is a mutually beneficial and win-win development platform for China to share its development dividend with other countries in the world, instead of a tool of geopolitics.
From 2014 to 2016, "neighboring countries" was frequently mentioned in the report while it hardly appears in the reports since 2017. Correspondingly, "common circle of friends" became the hot word of 2017. This shows that the BRI has been developed from neighboring countries of China to the rest of the world. In the future, more countries will recognize and join the BRI.
It is worth mentioning that the phrase "sustainable development" has become the hot word in reports since 2016 and it has an increasing frequency of being reported year by year, which also demonstrates that the BRI will contribute to promoting the sustainable development of economies in the regions on the basis of complementary advantages. To some extent, this also abolishes the smear that the B&R intends to set up "debt trap".
The media is the narrator, disseminator, and interpreter of the B&R. According to Shen Guofang, former Assistant Foreign Minister and former Spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the key to tell the Silk Road stories is to consider the comfort and the acceptance of the listeners and the stories should be told in a way that the audience is delightful to accept and we should avoid imposing our views on others or being self-centered.
Liang Haiming, Chairman of the China Silk Road iValley Research Institute and Feng Daxuan, Chief Adviser at the China Silk Road iValley Research Institute, stated in their articles that for the countries along the B&R, it is undeniable that China is a major country now. The overseas dissemination of the B&R must utter the voice that the world needs China, but China needs the world more. Only in this way can the B&R be more attractive and persuasive in the world.