China Daily, China’s largest English-language newspaper, has launched an African edition of the paper based in Nairobi, Kenya following the launch of CCTV Africa earlier this year. CNC World, Xinhua’s English-language start-up, was setup on eutelsat communication satellites in January 2011 while China Radio International, offering Mandarin instruction as well as news stories of Chinese-African cooperation, began back in 2006.
China is now Africa’s largest trading partner and has of July 2012, pledged $20bn in credit for Africa over the next three years, in a push for closer ties and increased trade.
According to a New York Times Report earlier in August:
[China’s] $7 billion campaign, part of a Chinese Communist Party bid to expand the 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 the struggles and take powerful measures to prevent and deal with them.”
Many fear that the 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 the news media. Similarly, the Ethiopian government received $1.5 billion in Chinese loans for training and technology to block objectionable Web sites, television and radio transmissions, according to exile groups.
CCTV News, which claims 200 million viewers outside China, is now available in six languages; one of its latest ventures is an Arabic news channel. To increase its reach — and compete with Western news organizations — Xinhua often gives away dispatches to financially struggling news media outlets in Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia.
Beyond standard media channels, China has also offered thousands of scholarships for African journalists to study in China, further supporting China’s soft power approach to the continent.