A multimedia guide to covering the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC)
Initiated in 2000, the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) is a triennial meeting where China and African states review and set targets for the relationship in the following three years. The 2018 gathering in Beijing was the seventh meeting between China and African leaders, and the third FOCAC meeting to be held at summit level. The previous two summits were held in Beijing (2006) and Johannesburg (2015). The other FOCAC meetings (2000, 2003, 2009 and 2012) were held at ministerial level. The next FOCAC meeting is scheduled to take place in 2021 in Senegal, which took over from South Africa as co-chair alongside China in 2018.
Whether you are a novice or a veteran journalist, covering FOCAC events can be a challenge in terms of access to official events and sources. Even though FOCAC only convenes every three years, each conference is in fact a build-up of a variety of long-standing and new issues, as well as involves multiple actors such as think tanks, scholarships, and journalism exchanges. Therefore understanding the key trends and context of relations in general is necessary when reporting on FOCAC. Journalists’ reports play an important role as they add colour to formal agreements, they help follow-up on official pledges and agreements (including their impact on African communities) and importantly, highlight the untold everyday stories that official big events may at times overlook. To help you and your news organisation prepare for reporting on FOCAC, ACRP and CAP have produced reporting and audio guides to help you better frame the key issues in Africa-China engagements and to hear first-hand from fellow journalists who have covered FOCAC before.
Read more FOCAC analysis from the ACRP and other sources:
The media has done an admirable job in covering many key aspects of the developing Africa-China relationship, providing a range of views and perspectives. But journalists are busy and under-resourced, and sometimes because of tight deadlines and understaffed newsrooms coverage can slip into hearsay, rumormongering, or simply repeating government talking points.
Most journalists assigned to cover a FOCAC meeting will likely not have much experience reporting on Africa-China relations. The editors of the China Africa Project (CAP) have produced a series of audio guides and discussions designed to help journalists better understand the core issues and, most importantly, how to avoid the numerous editorial traps that can jeopardize coverage on a subject as vast and complex as Africa-China relations.