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.
This audio guide addresses five of the key issues that confront journalists who report on China's engagement in Africa. Hosted by veteran broadcast journalist Eric Olander and South African Institute of International Affairs Senior Researcher Dr Cobus van Staden, the guide addresses the following five key points to help journalists improve their reporting on Africa-China relations:
· Beware of the “extreme narrative”
· Who are the Chinese in Africa?
· Watch your language. Old definitions don't apply
· African “agency.” Africa is not a victim here
· How many Chinese in Africa? No one really knows
Like other international summits, there is a lot more to covering a FOCAC event than just reporting on the final communiqué. With so many heads of state and their delegations in one place, combined with NGOs, protestors and activists of all stripes, there is a lot going on at a FOCAC summit.
When covering any major international summit it can be challenging to get the “real story” beyond the official communiqués and government talking-points, especially at Chinese events where the messaging is often tightly controlled.
James Schneider is a veteran African journalist with extensive experience reporting on African diplomacy; he also covered the 2015 Africa Union summit in Ethiopia. He shares his insights on how journalists at the 2015 FOCAC summit in Johannesburg can be more effective in reporting the story in terms of:
· What are the editorial traps to avoid?
· How to get the Chinese side of the story
· How to prepare for covering FOCAC 6
This audio guide explores the key themes that await journalists at the 2015 FOCAC Summit in South Africa. Host Eric Olander speaks with two leading Africa-Asia media scholars, Dr Cobus van Staden and Professor Herman Wasserman from the University of Cape Town, about different ideas on how to cover the 2015 conference:
· FOCAC: an introduction
· How journalists can prepare to cover FOCAC
· What journalists should avoid
· Understanding your own implicit biases
· Covering FOCAC in the context of Africa-China
The 2018 FOCAC summit took place in Beijing on 3 and 4 September, concluding with the announcement that China will provide another US$60 billion financial package for African countries. While the US$60 billion figure was the same amount China offered at the 2015 FOCAC summit, the allocation of the funds is very different. Billions of dollars of interest-free grants have been replaced by concessional loans (interest-bearing debt). Almost 20% of the entire package, US$10 billion, is devoted to attracting Chinese investment to Africa.
With a FOCAC package that is arguably more beneficial to China’s lenders than Africa’s borrowers, combined with a steady downturn in trade, have we reached the peak of China’s economic relationship with Africa? Africa-China scholar Luke Patey, senior researcher at the Danish Institute of International Affairs, is among those who believe that the outcome of the 2018 FOCAC summit clearly demonstrated that Africa now has a diminished role in China’s global economic agenda. Luke discusses what’s behind this trend and his provocative column in the Financial Times on why “The Chinese Model is Failing Africa.”
IS THIS REALLY THE BEST TIME FOR A CHINA-AFRICA SUMMIT?
Ahead of the 2018 FOCAC Summit in Beijing, ACRP Research Associate Dr Yu-Shan Wu discusses whether it still makes sense for China to put on big, fancy and expensive mega summits with African leaders like FOCAC. Facing a slowing economy and a potentially devastating trade war with the US, maybe China has more important things to do? That said, Africa presents a huge potential market and enormous geopolitical opportunities for Beijing in this time of profound geopolitical change.