• Mr Lin Songtian (4th right), the Director General of African Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China with the journalists. Image from article
By: Severious Kale-DeryDate :Wednesday, 18 November 2015 06:18
China is courting African journalists to help tell the success stories of that country to the world.
Consequently, it has put in place programmes to enable African journalists to visit China for periods ranging between two weeks and 10 months, during which the journalists will be exposed to everything about China.
China-Africa press exchange workshop
Recently, 13 journalists from Ghana and Nigeria were in China under a programme dubbed, “The China-Africa press exchange workshop for senior journalists”.
The programme, organised by the Beijing International Chinese College (BICC) and sponsored by the China-Africa Press Centre of the China Public Diplomacy Association, afforded the journalists the opportunity to appreciate the Chinese culture and learn at first-hand how China has been able to move from nowhere to become the second biggest economy in the world with a foreign reserve of $1 trillion.
Apart from roundtable discussions, during which the journalists had the opportunity to interact with top-notch Chinese government officials, they also went through tutelage on basic Chinese language and the metamorphosis of the Republic of China to the People’s Republic of China.
They also had the opportunity to visit selected manufacturing industries, especially those that have outlets in Africa such as Huawei Technologies Company Limited and Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China Ltd, both in Shanghai, Zhengzhou Yutong Group Company Ltd in Zhengzou, Tianhe Agriculture Development Company Limited, as well as the Chinese Railway Construction Corporation Limited.
The journalists also had a taste of the cultural practices and visited tourist centres such as the Great Wall of China, the sacred sanctuary of the popular Shaolin Temple in Beijing, the Huangpu River and the Shanghai Central Towers, both in Shanghai and the Xuchang Museum among others.
Role of journalists
Addressing the journalists, the Director General of African Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, Mr Lin Songtian, said the role of journalists in telling the world the true story of China could not be underestimated and that since China and Africa shared common interests, “we consider journalists from Africa as close allies to tell the world the true story of China”.
“If we bring politicians and policy makers alone here, they will go back and only share their experiences with their wives and family members, but we know that if we bring journalists here, they will go back and share their experiences with Africa and, indeed, the world,” he said.
Mr Songtian announced that he had proposed to his government to sponsor more journalists from Africa from next year to stay longer and not just for two weeks to enable them to appreciate everything about China.
He said he was hopeful that the China-Africa Summit to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa, in December this year would help foster relations between Africa and China and also serve as a platform for journalists from both sides to network.
Mr Songtian said China was ready to share ideas with Africa “because we share common challenges”, adding that “China still has about 70 million of its population living in poverty and that is why we are still a developing country”.
A Princeton PhD, was a US diplomat for over 20 years, mostly in Eastern Europe, and was promoted to the Senior Foreign Service in 1997. For the Open World Leadership Center, he speaks with
its delegates from Europe/Eurasia on the topic, "E Pluribus Unum? What Keeps the United States United." Affiliated with Georgetown University for over ten years, he shares ideas with students about public diplomacy.
The papers of his deceased father -- poet and diplomat John L. Brown -- are stored at Georgetown University Special Collections at the Lauinger Library. They are manuscript materials valuable to scholars interested in post-WWII U.S.-European cultural relations.
This blog is dedicated to him, Dr. John L. Brown, a remarkable linguist/humanist who wrote in the Foreign Service Journal (1964) -- years before "soft power" was ever coined -- that "The CAO [Cultural Affairs Officer] soon comes to realize that his job is really a form of love-making and that making love is never really successful unless both partners are participating."