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The Chinese Future of African Television

Participants in the “Our African Partners: CMG Media Cooperation Forum 2021” organized in November 2021. Image via Xinhua.

In December 2021, the U.S. confirmed that President Joe Biden will boycott the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing in February. But already before the end of November, China had signaled it was working towards lessening the public diplomacy fallout of such gestures. As part of the November 2021 three-yearly Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) agreement, a 36-partner collaboration was announced between the state-owned China Media Group (CMG) – responsible for CCTV and the international broadcaster CGTN – and African press and television organizations. The result could be that China will succeed in shaping considerable TV and newspaper Olympic coverage in Africa. China will use this fresh public diplomacy leverage in African broadcasting and online news to narrate the message that China’s international status continues to rise. 

Signed up for this mammoth partnership were state broadcasters and companies from South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, and Senegal, amongst others. Details thus far are scant, but according to Dr. Ayub Rioba, the Director-General of the Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation, the alliance will involve “exchange of content, exchange of staff, and co-production.” The relationship-building forum was led by African Union of Broadcasting CEO Gregoire Ndjaka, Huang Kunming, head of China’s CPC Central Committee Publicity Department, and CMG president Shen Haixiong, the latter of who linked China-Africa relations to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

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