According to an article on Qiu Shi, the major Western news agencies such as CNN, Reuters, BBC, etc. make up 80% of the daily news information, and 50 top Western media companies own 95% of the global market[1] . China clearly feels its disadvantage in being heard, especially when it has very different or opposite views. Different from the West, where China has mostly "strategic partners", Africa has been 'friends' for a long time. However, there is increasing skepticism about the friendship, largely due to the Western media campaign that China considered distorted and biased. "To make the rest of the world aware of China's role in Africa, the Chinese mass media have to break the monopoly of their Western competitors in Africa and spread the facts, as well as the views, of the Chinese government and think tanks across the world."[2] In her Op-Ed on China Daily, Deng Yanting well interpreted the intention of the state-led media expansion in Africa.

Chinese media's international presence didn't start recently, they started as early as 1940s and reached Africa in 1950s[3] . However, the recent "Going out" direct from the central government definitely showed renewed emphasis on its internationalization. The main strategies of 'Going out" in Africa are infrastructure support, fully-owned or joint venture news agencies, and training.
Source: The Rise of Chin'a State-Led Media Dynasty in Africa. SAIIA.

Major State-led Media's recent expansion in Africa

1. China Central Television (CCTV)

As a state-owned television company, the government exercise tight censorship over CCTV’s content, and direct its business strategies. CCTV’s expansion and involvement in Africa must be approved by the government and serve its political and economic interests. However, the objectives of those investment are not limited to “change the narrative of China's involvement in Africa from one of exploitation to one of opportunity”, as some analysts said[4] , but also to change the narrative of Africa to the Chinese and international audience.

CCTV Africa

CCTV Africa is CCTV's first oversea news productions center which was launched in Kenya on January 11, 2012. The CCTV Africa News Production center is an important step in expanding CCTV’s global news coverage capabilities and enhancing its competitiveness in the global media market. It produces a one-hour daily program on CCTV’s English channel and focuses on African news and perspectives as well as international news.By analyzing the content of CCTV’s high-profile investment - the CCTV Africa program, one can find that there’s little about China or China’s increasing presence in Africa. However, the content, contradictory to how most news agency supposed to be, is unusually apolitical, showing the prudence and pragmatism of the Chinese government in handling political issues in Africa.

While there is definite political and economic motivation behind the African expansion, there is also strategic motivation. CCTV Africa is considered a loboratory of its international expansion. There, CCTV Africa is able to experiment editorially, talking about human rights issues and local democratic elections that would be off the limits in China. The main audience of the CCTV English Channel is the English-speaking Chinese at home and abroad. According to CCTV, it “will provide a platform for its Chinese audience to better understand Africa,... and the real Africa can be presented to the world”[5] .

I Love Africa

Screen Shot 2013-12-03 at 1.48.46 AM.pngAt the same time, “I Love Africa”, a mobile TV application was launched together with CCTV Africa. It was designed as a platform for Africans to learn about China and the world. CNTV, the online broadcast platform of CCTV, allows viewers in Africa to watch documentaries, educational programs, TV dramas and films through mobile terminal devices.

This service is provided in Chinese, English, French and Arabic in Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, and Mozambique at the beginning stage in 2012, and by the end of 2013, the coverage is expected to expand to Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Benin and Senegal.

China International Television Corporation (CITVC)

CITVC is fully owned by CCTV and is providing all commercial and technical support as well as peripheral businesses and services. It is the real commercial arms of CCTV and it is through CITVC that international cooperation, investment and infrastructure aid are realized. It has 102 fully and partially owned companies abroad and at home with almost 20,000 staff members. In December 2010, CCTV and CITVC established a sub company China International Television Video Communication Ltd. with the mission of "Communicate China to the world, report the world to the world"[6] . According to its official website, it provides news content of international standard to over a thousand international TV channels and news agencies, in five languages. In 2011, CITVC launched a sub-company Yaoshi Media in Nairobi in charge of hiring and training local staff for CCTV Africa broadcast center, cooperating with local universities in developing local media talents, as well as promotion of CCTV Africa, CCTV international channels and Great Wall TV. On November 20, CCTV hosted a workshop on Africa TV Media during which the China International Television Video Communication Ltd. signed content sharing agreement with 15 African media agencies.
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2. Newspapers

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Xinhua News Agency

Xinhua News Agency, the biggest Chinese agency and a state-owned one, has established almost 30 bureaus in the continent along with its own television channels. In 2008, it launched the China African News Service while in April 2011 it teamed up with telecommunications firm Safaricom to start a mobile newspaper in Kenya. This project was only partially successful and was discontinued in 2012.

And now, China's media strategy in Africa has taken a step further by providing customer-oriented news offerings and poaching some of the best journalistic talents to bring African news to the continent and to the world.

“Xinhua's major forms of intervention in Africa include setting up bureaus, developing news portfolio targeting African audiences, exchanging news with (or selling news wires to) African media subscribers, and providing technical equipment and support as well as training African journalists. The first two forms of intervention have been on top of Xinhua's agenda in recent years and will be the focus of this article. The increasing presence of Xinhua in Africa sheds some light on the debate on ‘media imperialism’ and international news flows in the context of China's economic rise.”

China Daily

China's biggest English-language newspaper, has launched "China News Africa Edition" in 2012, with the mission to explain "the relationship between China and the African continent"[7] . The content does not entirely avoid critical engagement with state policy, but it reports within very narrow bounds, just like CCTV Africa.

The weekly newspaper covers Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Ghana and other African countries, and the reader includes African countries government agencies, the business community, the main think tanks, universities, international organizations and the African multinational corporations, non-diplomatic personnel stationed.


Besides the CCTV, Xinhua and China Daily, People's Daily, Star Times, etc. all have varying level of engagement in Africa. Many of them have some experimental characteristic with more freedom in their reporting comparing to China. With the philosophy of positive reporting, censorship remains limiting their credibility and appeal to the audience. However, one analysis point out that as the Chinese media hire many local journalists, those once being treated with hostility from their government may have better treatment and access now.
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  2. ^ www.qstheory.cn/dd/2011/gjcbnl/201103/t20110308_71267.htm
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    Yu-Shan Wu, The Rise of Chin'a State-Led Media Dynasty in Africa, SAIIA Occasional Paper No. 117, June 2012
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    Yu-Shan Wu, The Rise of Chin'a State-Led Media Dynasty in Africa, SAIIA Occasional Paper No. 117, June 2012
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