In the late 1990s, media professionals in mainland China began to more frequently employ the term “credibility”, first introduced from Hong Kong and Taiwan. The term appeared early on as a slogan among commercial media. Southern Weekend, a commercial spin-off of the official Nanfang Daily in China’s southern Guangdong Province, for example, advertised itself as “China’s largest-circulation, heftiest, most credible and most influential comprehensive weekly, and the country’s most important newspaper (中国发行量最大、版数最多、公信力最强、影响最广的综合性周报，也是中国最重要的报纸).”
In the beginning, the term “credibility” was connected with the goal of objective reporting independent of outside (and government) influences. As media commercialization picked up pace, it became more closely connected with the question of the “professional integrity of the press” and “press corruption” (a side-effect of commercialization under state control). The term has frequently surfaced in debates surrounding cases of press corruption, in which “the quality of credibility” (公信力品质) has been pitted against the “profit motive” (利润最大化).