Pursuing Soft Power, China Puts Stamp on Africa’s News

China’s investment prowess and construction know-how is widely on display in this long-congested African capital (Nairobi). A $200 million ring road is being built and partly financed by Beijing. International airport is undergoing a $208 million expansion supported by Chinese, whose loans also paid for a working-class housing complex residents have nicknamed Great Wall apartments. But Beijing’s efforts to win Kenyan affections involve much more than bricks. The country’s most popular English-language newspapers are flecked with articles by the Chinese state news agency, Xinhua. Television viewers can get their international news from either CCTV, the Chinese broadcasting behemoth, or CNC World, Xinhua’s English-language start-up. On the radio, just a few notches over from Voice of America and the BBC, China Radio International offers Mandarin instruction along with upbeat accounts of the Chinese-African cooperation and global perambulations of Chinese leaders. “You would have to be blind not to notice Chinese media’s arrival in Kenya,” said Eric Shimoli, a top editor at Kenya’s most widely read newspaper, The Daily Nation, which entered into a partnership with Xinhua last year. “It’s a full-on charm offensive.” At a time when most Western broadcasting and newspaper companies are retrenching, the China’s state-run news media giants are rapidly expanding in Africa and across the developing world. They are hoping to bolster China’s image and influence around globe, particularly in regions rich in natural resources needed to fuel China’s powerhouse industries and help feed its immense population. $7 billion campaign, part of Chinese Communist Party bid to expand country’s soft power, is based in part on the notion that biased Western news media have painted a distorted portrait of China. “Hostile international powers are strengthening their efforts to Westernize and divide us,” President Hu Jintao wrote this year in a party journal. “We must be aware of the seriousness and complexity of struggles, take powerful measures to prevent and deal with them.” Beijing’s bid to provide a counterpoint to Western influence, however, is raising alarms among the human rights activists, news media advocates and American officials, who cite a record of censorship that has earned China a reputation as one of world’s most restrictive countries for journalism. “We are engaged in an information war, and we are losing that war,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned a Congressional committee last year, citing growing influence of state-backed outlets like Russia Today and CCTV. Many fear impact of China’s news media juggernaut will be especially pronounced in countries where freedoms are fragile. In Venezuela, China is building and financing communications satellites for a government that has exercised increasing control over news media. Similarly, Ethiopian government received $1.5 bill. in Chinese loans for training and technology to block objectionable Web sites, television and radio transmissions, according to exile groups (…..)

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/17/world/africa/chinas-news-media-make-inroads-in-africa.html


Acerca de ignaciocovelo
Consultor Internacional

6 Responses to Pursuing Soft Power, China Puts Stamp on Africa’s News

  1. FM. Banicki: We spend money fighting two wars. China spends money helping a struggling continent gain a foothold on prosperity. Who is spending wiser. He who plans for the future usually does better than the one who takes one day at a time. This is why China is quickly becoming the number one power in the world and the United States is slipping. Chinese history and culture goes back more than 3,000 years. The history of the United States covers only 235 years. This is the basis of their long-term perspective….


  2. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: Good comments, FM – U of M material, you? During the second half of last century, US took Africa and Latin America for granted. As the US keeps the most expensive army in the world, China builds the most advanced infrastructure in the world and establish solid economic-trade links with the global economy. Even if the US-EU change their strategy in relation to Africa and Latin America, it is too little, too late.

    There is no money left and CREDIBILITY to implement a new foreign policy that can restore prestige and influence of the past.

    The US-EU team are being solidly beaten by China’s team. Beijing’s Presidential diplomacy is a good case in point. Latin America and Africa have been constantly visited by China’s top leadership in the last ten years. In every single visit, concrete economic-financial deals are made between Beijing and governments in the two continents.

    The perception in Africa and Latin America is loud and clear: China delivers goods while the EU-US deliver promises and conflicts.

    Propaganda against China in the midia won’t do the trick anymore. The so called third world became more sophisticated than many G-7 countries. They know who is friend and who is foe in this new century.


  3. E. Nowak: But how much of the assets and money stay in Africa, how much is funneled out to China? A few stories about the Chinese building token buildings here and there doesn’t make up for the fact that China is taking out billions in assets and exporting them to China, but the African people are seeing very little in return.


  4. Frosty: I feel like the West has vastly underestimated how effective the Chinese strategy in Africa has been, undermining an effective response to it. In many reports on the subject, I see references to colonialism, hearkening back to the days when European powers divided Africa amongst themselves. That is a massive misunderstanding.

    The Chinese are there to conduct business, not to establish a government at the barrel end of a gun like the Europeans did. They treat the locals more like business partners rather than foreign aid victims to be pitied like the West and its media often portrays them, much to my regret. Is it any surprise then that the locals prefer the former treatment?

    They’ve poured billions of dollars of investments into infrastructure and businesses that the West never did after colonialism ended. Did some of that money go into the pockets of corrupt leaders? Of course, but that’s what happens with a developing country. To expect a corruption free system before giving aid or loans is putting the cart before the horse. The only way we can counter this is by matching the Chinese efforts in financing African infrastructure and business opportunities. Anything else would just be hot air from us.


  5. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: Your comments are right on target. China treats Africa as a trading-economic partner while Western powers treat Africa as a spoil of conquest or conflict theater. China is financing an advanced system of roads, ports, airports and telecommunication systems that allow Africa, for the first time, to become integrated into the global economy. China’s direct investment in natural resources are having two positive effects: (1) create a solid source of financial revenues for cash strapped governments. Windfall money generated is being used to improve the lives of millions of poor Africans; (2) as the economy modernizes and governments effectively control its territory, civil wars induced by natural resources exploitation are curtailed or eliminated. Strengthened civilian power reinforces control of money and avoid military coups.

    What are the lessons to be learned by Western powers, particularly the US? China is a game changer in Africa. Either Western powers follow the Chinese paradigm or be left behind.

    For example, the World Bank became irrelevant since Chinese loans don’t have conditionality attached to them. The recent economic partnership initiative proposed by the US to South Africa is too little, too late. The US-EU, deep in economic problems for years to come, are in no position to offer a better deal than China does.

    As the old saying goes: He who has the GOLD makes the RULES. In this new century, China is making the rules in Africa and Latin America.


  6. (…..) The Dodd-Frank overhaul of Wall Street regulations, which President Obama signed into law in July 2010, included a provision, Section 1504, that requires American and foreign companies that are registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission to disclose — country by country and project by project — how much they pay governments around the world for access to their oil, natural gas and minerals. (Federal law already prohibits companies from bribing foreign officials to get or retain business.) In December 2010, the S.E.C. issued proposed regulations to put Section 1504 into effect. The commission has yet to finalize the rules but is scheduled to take up the matter on Wednesday, at a hearing in Washington. Some of the world’s largest oil and gas companies — along with industry groups like the American Petroleum Institute — are trying to water down the regulations or delay them from taking effect. Some are proposing to exempt resource-extracting companies from having to comply if a foreign government objects, an idea I think of as a “tyrant’s veto.” The industry also claims that complying with the tough disclosure requirements will be costly and may place companies at a competitive disadvantage — but these arguments have been thoroughly discredited, making it hard not to conclude that many would simply prefer to carry on operating in secret. A similar fight is playing out in Europe. The German government is resisting requirements for project-level reporting, and the European Council, which comprises leaders of the European Union’s member states, has called for a weaker form of disclosure. However, some members of the European Parliament continue to champion strong disclosure requirements. Having helped Libya to overthrow a tyrant, the United States and the European Union can now help win the peace — by committing themselves to strong transparency standards for energy companies. In Libya, we don’t want our oil resources to bolster new tyrants, and the world shouldn’t either. When tyrants control energy supplies and gun down their own citizens, they invite only rebellion, military intervention and oil-supply shocks. We want a stable, prosperous country under the rule of law, in which citizens benefit from their natural resources and hold their leaders to account. I urge the S.E.C., as well as European regulators, to resist the lobbying from the oil, gas and mineral industries and to issue strong rules consistent with the spirit of Section 1504. By making the oil companies answerable to the public — in America, Europe and everywhere they do business — we can turn oil into a force for transparent and open commerce rather than corruption and repression.



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