Chinese paper to launch Africa edition

China’s biggest English-language daily newspaper is setting up shop in South Africa.  China Daily’s deputy chief editor Gao Anming told the paper’s reporters in Beijing that the newspaper will launch an African edition later this year. Its African bureaus will be in Johannesburg and the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. China Daily already produces American and European editions, but its arrival in Africa will mark the first time a Chinese newspaper has ventured onto the continent.

The African edition will be published every Friday.

“It will aim to introduce China to the world and present news with a Chinese angle,” said Gao.

China Daily currently sells 250 000 copies at home each day, with its weekly editions selling 170 000 copies in America and 150 000 in Europe.

The newspaper is fully owned by the Chinese government – but Gao insisted the paper had an independent editorial policy and said its editorial board members were not government officials.

“We do run reports criticising government and suggesting measures on how it should improve,” he said.

He told City Press the paper initially expected to sell 10 000 copies, and the owners were not expecting to make a return on their investment for two to three years.

The paper will be aimed at South Africans and will focus mainly on business news. Gao said local and Chinese journalists would be hired, and plans were afoot to establish bureaus in Nigeria and Ethiopia in future.

News of the African launch of China Daily comes in the same week that China banished a journalist from Al Jazeera’s English television network.

Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Beijing, Melissa Chan, was told this week her press credentials would not be renewed. No reason was given.

“We stress that everybody must abide by Chinese laws and regulations and must abide by their professional ethics,” was all Chinese government spokesperson Hong Lei was willing to say.

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China said the government had been unhappy with Al Jazeera for some time.

“Chinese officials had expressed anger at a documentary the channel aired last November. Chan did not even play a part in making that documentary.

“They have also expressed unhappiness with the general editorial content on Al Jazeera English and accused Chan of violating rules and regulations that they have not specified,” the club said.

A Chinese government official who knows Chan told City Press the government felt “disappointed” that Chan, who was Chinese-American, reported critically about her home country.

“They think she should have been more loyal because she’s from here,” he said.

The Chinese government cut off access to Twitter and Facebook after uprisings in Tibet in 2008.

Several local journalists who spoke to City Press complained about police harassment and said they needed permission to film or photograph some public spaces like shopping malls.

During a seminar hosted by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences this week, Chinese scholars were critical of Western and African media which, they said, were biased against China.

Many cited reports about the African Union headquarters in Ethiopia as an example of this apparent bias. Reports about the headquarters, which were fully paid for by the Chinese government at a cost of more than R1 billion, were mostly negative. This, scholars said, pointed to the built-in bias that journalists had against China.

* By Mandy Rossouw in Beijing – Date: 2012-05-13 – Source: City Press


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