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A Chinese Journalist Reflects on Reporting the China-Africa Story


How foreign journalists report on the China-Africa story is often determined by the national origin of their news organization. While there are no doubt exceptions, the US news media frequently frame China as the neo-colonial aggressor and Africa as the persistent victim of foreign agendas. The French, for their part, too often simply ignore the story and the Chinese frame Sino-African ties in almost exclusively positive terms that echo official policy positions.

These so-called “embedded narratives” run deep, particularly among older journalists, but a new generation of young foreign correspondents in Africa is challenging some of these dated caricatures.

Zhang Zizhu is a Special Correspondent in Nairobi for the Hong Kong-based global TV news network Phoenix Info News Channel. Zizhu is an unusual position as Chinese journalist based in Africa who does not work for any of the official Chinese Communist Party-run media like Xinhua or CCTV Africa. As an independent journalist reporting for a privately-owned TV channel, Zizhu has much more flexibility in the stories she covers and how she frames her reports.

Zizhu joins Eric & Cobus to reflect on the benefits of covering the Chinese in Africa with the benefit of being a Mandarin-speaking ethnic Chinese herself. However, she adds, that even with those advantages, Zizhu still faces many of the same obstacles that frustrate other foreign reporters assigned to report on China’s engagement in Africa.

Show notes:

About Zhang Zizhu:
AAEAAQAAAAAAAAUOAAAAJDM2ZWE1OTJlLWI1YzktNDc3Yi05ZmIwLTQ5OTI4YzdiNjYyNwZhang Zizhu (张子竹) is a Nairobi-based Special Correspondent for the Hong Kong-based international television network Phoenix InfoNews Channel. Zhang is the channel’s only on-camera correspondent in the region to cover major political and social news that occurs in Kenya as well as other countries in Africa. Her Mandarin-language reports are seen by a global audience across 150 countries and regions around the world. Zhang is a graduate of both the London School of Economics and the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.

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