Friday, June 21, 2019

China's Expanding Media Dominance in Africa

From Der Spiegel:

Chinese state television is gaining influence in Africa. But while the media outlets involved officially claim their journalism is independent, those who work for the companies tell a different story.
An interview? Or perhaps just a discussion on background? "We have no interest in speaking with you," Liao Liang writes in an email. And, thank you for understanding, but a visit to his television broadcaster in Nairobi isn't possible either, he writes. Indeed, the rejection is so complete, it's as though he is protecting a state secret.

Yet Liao Liang's mission in the Kenyan capital is hardly confidential: As a senior editor of the China Global Television Network (CGTN), a subsidiary of Chinese state television, his task is that of shining a positive light on his country's ambitious activities -- particularly those in Africa, where China's reputation has suffered as its footprint has grown.
The broadcaster occupies three floors in the K-Rep Centre, a mirrored-glass high-rise in the upscale neighborhood of Kilimani. The first security check comes right at the building entrance, including a pat-down and questions from the suspicious receptionist. After that, though, there's no getting by the next receptionist on the third floor. "To be honest," she says with fake regret, "there is no chance you'll be allowed to see Mr. Liao."

Liao Liang is top dog at the broadcaster. He was allegedly an army officer in a previous life, but little else is known about him. CGTN employs around 150 people, including journalists from China, South Africa, Britain, Nigeria and Kenya, yet even when promised anonymity, nobody initially agreed to speak with DER SPIEGEL. "They're afraid of Liao," an employee would later say.

"Tell China's story well," instructed Chinese President Xi Jinping three years ago when he visited the broadcaster's headquarters in Beijing. CGTN journalists aren't just there to ward off criticism of China's expansion in Africa but also to break the West's media dominance. The broadcaster has a similar mission in Africa as Russia's state broadcaster RT does in Europe.

A New Form of Colonialism
In the last two decades, China has developed into Africa's strongest economic partner, with an annual trade volume of far more than $200 billion, a total that is much higher than Africa's trade with the United States or with former colonial powers like France and the United Kingdom. And China's foothold in the region goes beyond goods and services. Two years ago, the country established a naval base in the East African country of Djibouti. And it is thought that over a million Chinese now call Africa home. In many countries, they are seen as conquerors who aren't just interested in natural resources and new markets, but also in permanently settling there. According to one survey, the majority of Africans welcome the Chinese involvement, but critics, such as the Senegalese author Adama Gaye, have warned of a new form of colonialism....

China's Plan For Global Media Dominance

If interested see also:
"Chinese-style 'digital authoritarianism' grows globally"
"Former Google CEO predicts the internet will split in two by 2028 — and one part will be led by China"
Follow-up: "...African economy needs more usage of Chinese yuan..."
"How China is Transforming Africa Into 'New Factory of the World'"
"Natural Resources & Sleeper Cells: China’s Plan For The Next 5,000 Years"