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China’s Media Investment In Africa Shows Leadership And Raises Questions

July 23, 2013

By Paul Glader

The new China Central Television (CCTV) tower hardly visible as fog covers most of Beijing on March 17, 2012. (Image credit: AFP/Getty Images via @daylife)

The new China Central Television (CCTV) tower hardly visible as fog covers most of Beijing on March 17, 2012. (Image credit: AFP/Getty Images via @daylife)

It’s a media paradox when countries with the deepest pockets to hire journalists and open new Radio and TV stations also don’t see press freedom as a virtue.

Yes. We are talking about China. And others.

But let’s suspend judgment for a moment and take a look at the leadership and strategy that China is exercising in media. Their leadership is a challenge to other countries to step up the game in soft power. It also brings a challenge to China of producing independent, quality journalism that people will respect.

Yu-Shan Wu has been tracking the rise of Chinese media companies in Africa as a researcher at the Global Powers and Africa Programme at the South African Institute of International Affairs in Johannesburg South Africa. She has compiled a telling list of 45 instances where Chinese media companies (link or attached) are expanding their presence in emerging markets such as Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia but also in media hubs such as New York and Washington DC.

A Kenyan in Nairobi can now get news from – in addition to the BBC and Al-Jazeera – China Radio International and the China Central Television, or CCTV. In 2012, CCTV built it first international broadcast hub in Nairobi. A Kenyan might also see articles from the Chinese state news agency,Xinhua, showing up in their local newspaper (at no charge to the local newspaper).

Many countries try to expand their global reach and influence with think tanks and cultural organizations such as China’s Confucius Institute and Germany’s Goethe Institute. University exchanges function as a way to share points of view. But increased media investment from nation states is a newish development. More nations such as Brazil, Russia, Venezuela and others are also stepping up their media operations abroad.

Why are these countries, particularly China, getting more into the TV and radio business in foreign markets now? Read more at Forbes.

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