China Radio International

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China Radio International
City of license Shijingshan Road 16th Beijing
Broadcast area Worldwide
First air date December 3, 1941
Affiliations State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television
Owner  People's Republic of China
Website CRI, CRI in English
China Radio International
Simplified Chinese 中国国际
Traditional Chinese 中國國際

China Radio International (CRI) (Chinese: 中国国际广播电台; pinyin: Zhōngguó Guójì Guǎngbō Diàntái) is the People's Republic of China (PRC) state-owned international radio broadcaster, currently headquartered in Babaoshan, a subdistrict of Beijing. Formerly Radio Beijing, and originally Radio Peking, it was founded on December 3 of 1941.

CRI adopts the PRC Government's stance on political issues such as the Political status of Taiwan and the status of the Dalai Lama. CRI endeavours to promote favourable relations between the PRC and the world. As with other nations' external broadcasters such as Voice of America, BBC World Service and Radio Australia, CRI plays a significant role in the PRC's soft power strategy.

It has 30 overseas bureaus, and broadcasts 1,520 hours of programming each day (24 hours in English), including news, current affairs, and features on politics, the economy, culture, science and technology.

CRI has the most comprehensive foreign service in Asia.[citation needed] More than 50 shortwave transmitters are used to cover most of the world; it is broadcast via the internet and numerous satellites; and its programs are rebroadcast by many local FM and AM radio stations worldwide.


Radio was first introduced in China in the 1920s and 1930s. However, few households had radio receivers. A few cities had commercial stations. Most usage of radio was for political purpose, frequently on a local area level.

The Chinese Communist Party first used radio in Yanan in March 1940 with a transmitter imported from Moscow. Xinhua New Chinese Radio (XNCR) went on the air from Yanan on December 30, 1940. XNCR transmitted to a larger geographical area after 1945, and its programs became more regular and formalised with broadcasts of news, official announcements, war bulletins, and art and literary programs.

The English service started on September 11, 1947, transmitting as XNCR from a cave in Shahe in the Taihang Mountains,[1] when China was in the midst of a civil war, to announce newly conquered areas and broadcast a Chinese political and cultural perspective to the world at large.[2][3] The station moved from the Taihang Mountains to the capital, Peking, when The People's Republic of China was formed in 1949. Its name was changed to Radio Peking on April 10, 1950 and to Radio Beijing in 1983. On January 1, 1993 the name of the station was again changed, this time to China Radio International, in order to avoid any confusion with local Beijing radio broadcasting.

Short wave/international broadcasting[edit]

CRI broadcasts via shortwave radio, satellite and the Internet in English and numerous other languages (see below). There are also numerous AM and FM relays.

Shortwave broadcasts in English are targeted at North America, the Caribbean, Europe, Africa, Asia and the South Pacific. CRI maintains direct shortwave broadcasts to developed, media-rich countries in North America and Europe, even as major Western broadcasters (such as BBC World Service, Voice of America and Radio Netherlands) reduce or discontinue such broadcasts.


Mandarin Channel[edit]

At the beginning of 1984, it started to broadcast home service to the Beijing area on AM and FM frequencies. The service later expanded to dozens of major cities across the PRC, providing listeners inside the PRC with timely news and reports, music, weather, English and Chinese learning skills, as well as other services.

CRI News Radio (90.5 FM)[edit]

CRI News Radio (CRI环球资讯广播) was established on 28 September 2005, which takes advantage of CRI's journalists from all around the world and report international (and partially domestic) news, sport, entertainment and lifestyle programmes for domestic listeners in Mandarin Chinese. Its aim is to make CRI News Radio a first-class national news radio brand and its slogans are 'First News, News First', 'On-the-Spot China, Live World' etc.[4] CRI News Radio can be heard online and in Beijing on the radio on 90.5 FM; in Tianjin 90.6 FM; in Chongqing 91.7 FM; in Guangdong, Hong Kong, and Macau 107.1 FM; in Shandong 89.8 FM; in Anhui 90.1 FM.

Chinese podcasts[edit]

The following programmes can be heard on the Mandarin version of the podcast from the World Radio Network:

  • News (Chinese: 新闻节目 Pinyin: xīn wén jié mù), which comes from the Xinhua News Agency.
  • Tángrénjiē (Chinese: 唐人街 English translation: "Chinatown"), a programme about overseas Chinese (outside China)
  • Weather forecasts around China
  • Sports

This broadcast was originally targeted at London in the United Kingdom. In 2006, they removed the "London" reference, which was part of the introduction as "Ni hao London. Hello London"[5]

English Channel[edit]

CRI in English (88.0 FM, 88.7 FM, 91.5 FM, 846 AM, 1008 AM)[edit]

The CRI English channels that can be heard online are:

  • Round the Clock (Internet only)
  • News Centre (846 AM in Beijing)
  • Hit FM (88.7 FM in Beijing (24H All Day), 88.5 FM in Guangzhou (06:00—21:00 Beijing Time))
  • Easy FM (91.5 FM in Beijing (24H All Day), 87.9 FM in Shanghai (Shanghai Edition) (24H All Day), 98.5 FM in Lanzhou)
  • Language Studio (1008 AM in Beijing) - a one-hour programme that teaches English for someone who only knows Mandarin (not to be confused with Chinese Studio). The programme sounds like a kindergarten English lesson in the USA using very simple sentences (e.g. Mary goes to the bank).
  • CRI 91.9 FM (Kenya 91.9 FM)
  • Chinese Studio is a 5-minute segment that follows most CRI English programmes
  • China Drive is an English radio show about life in the PRC
  • CRI FM 102 in Sri Lanka in Sinhala, Tamil, English and Chinese (05:30—19:30 Sri Lanka Time) offers a wide range of video content on its video channel, including several flagship shows covering music, movies and comedy; and a handful of colourful documentary style shorts focussing on culture and travel within China.

English Podcasts[edit]

The English podcast from the World Radio Network includes the following programmes, all of which are also played on Easy FM, CRI 91.9 FM in Kenya, and in radio stations throughout the world.

  • Hourly News
  • The Beijing Hour (7 days a week since April, 2015)
  • People in the Know
  • Press Clippings
  • Studio Plus
  • Today
  • China Drive
  • Realtime China
  • Africa Express
  • Chinese Studio (sponsored by the Bridge School)

Holiday Broadcasts[edit]

During major Chinese holidays (dubbed Golden Week), such as Chinese New Year, May Day, and Mid-Autumn Festival, China Radio International typically broadcasts special programmes such as:

  • Growing Up In China (during the May Day holiday)

Most of these programmes are not typical of the broadcast during the other parts of the year. The analogy is similar to Christmas music broadcasts in the United States.


China Radio International broadcasts in the following languages:[6]

Mandarin Chinese



Tibetan (Lhasa and Kangba)
Uygur (China and Central Asia)

The Tibetan, Uygur and Kazakh services are broadcast in association with local radio stations (Tibet People's Broadcasting Station and Xinjiang People's Broadcasting Station).

Olympic Radio[edit]

In July 2006, CRI launched a new radio station called CRI Olympic Radio at 900 AM in Beijing. This special broadcast is done in Mandarin, Korean, English, Russian, French, Spanish, Arabic, Japanese and German 24 hours a day. This service terminated in late 2008 and now the frequency 900 AM is occupied by CRI News Radio (Beijing only).


Estimated total direct programme hours per week of some external radio broadcasters for 1996
Broadcaster 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 1996[2]
United States VOA, RFE/RL & Radio Martí 497 1,495 1,907 1,901 2,611 1,821
China China Radio International 66 687 1,267 1,350 1,515 1,620
United Kingdom BBC World Service 643 589 723 719 796 1,036
Russia Radio Moscow / Voice of Russia[1][3] 533 1,015 1,908 2,094 1,876 726
Germany Deutsche Welle 0 315 779 804 848 655
Egypt Radio Cairo (ERTU) 0 301 540 546 605 604
Iran IRIB World Service / Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran 12 24 155 175 400 575
India All India Radio 116 157 271 389 456 500
Japan NHK World Radio Japan 0 203 259 259 343 468
France Radio France Internationale 198 326 200 125 379 459
Netherlands Radio Netherlands Worldwide[1] 127 178 335 289 323 392
Israel Israel Radio International[1] 0 91 158 210 253 365
Turkey Voice of Turkey 40 77 88 199 322 364
North Korea Radio Pyongyang / Voice of Korea 0 159 330 597 534 364
Bulgaria Radio Bulgaria[1] 30 117 164 236 320 338
Australia Radio Australia 181 257 350 333 330 307
Albania Radio Tirana (RTSH) 26 63 487 560 451 303
Romania Radio Romania International 30 159 185 198 199 298
Spain Radio Exterior de España[5] 68 202 251 239 403 270
Portugal RDP Internacional[1] 46 133 295 214 203 226
Cuba Radio Havana Cuba 0 0 320 424 352 203
Italy Rai Italia Radio[1] 170 205 165 169 181 203
Canada Radio Canada International[1] 85 80 98 134 195 175
Poland Radio Polonia[1] 131 232 334 337 292 171
South Africa Radio RSA / Channel Africa 0 63 150 183 156 159
Sweden Sveriges Radio International[1] 28 114 140 155 167 149
Hungary Magyar Rádió[1] 76 120 105 127 102 144
Czech Republic Radio Prague[4] 119 196 202 255 131 131
Nigeria Voice of Nigeria 0 0 62 170 120 127
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Radio Belgrade / International Radio of Serbia 80 70 76 72 96 68

Source: International Broadcast Audience Research, June 1996

The list includes about a quarter of the world's external broadcasters whose output is both publicly funded and worldwide. Among those excluded are Taiwan, Vietnam, South Korea and various international commercial and religious stations.


  1. Does not broadcast on shortwave as of 2014.
  2. 1996 figures as at June; all other years as at December.
  3. Before 1991, broadcasting for the former USSR.
  4. Before 1996, broadcasting for the former Czechoslovakia.
  5. REE ceased all shortwave broadcasts in October 2014 but announced in December that it would resume shortwave transmission in Spanish only for four hours a day in order to accommodate Spanish fishing trawlers who were otherwise unable to receive REE at sea.


  1. ^ "CRI Marks China's First English Radio Show." (Archive) CRI English. November 25, 2011. Retrieved on November 16, 2013.
  2. ^ Chang, Won Ho, "Mass Media in China: The History and the Future", Ames, Iowa: Iowa State University Press, 1989, pp. 151-152.
  3. ^ China Radio International, History and Milestones: CRI English Service (Archive)
  4. ^ "Ѷ㲥 CRI News Radio". 
  5. ^ China Broadcast
  6. ^ "CRI Online". Retrieved 2015-02-15. 


  • Bishop, Robert L., "Qi Lai! Mobilizing One Billion Chinese: The Chinese Communication System", Ames, Iowa: Iowa State University Press, 1989. ISBN 0-8138-0296-2
  • Chang, Won Ho, "Mass Media in China: The History and the Future", Ames, Iowa: Iowa State University Press, 1989.
  • Hamm, Charles, "Music and Radio in the PRC," Asian Music, Spring/Summer 1991, vXXII, n2, p. 28-29.
  • Howkins, John, "Mass Communication in China", New York: Annenberg/ Longman Communication Books, 1982.

External links[edit]