The Chinese in Africa-Africans in China (CAAC) Research Network held its 5th Research Network Conference entitled China-Africa in Global Comparative Perspective, at the Universite libre de Bruxelles (ULB) in Brussels on 27-29 June 2018. The 3-day conference gathered over 120 international speakers in over 28 panels and two public seminars, in all presenting 113 papers. The aim of the conference was to showcase the latest research on comparative analysis of Africa-China, to promote and participate in constructive China-Africa-Europe dialogue and to facilitate and further develop publications and reports. The conference focused on China-Africa engagements in global comparative perspective, taking grass-root dynamics and people-to-people relations as the starting point. For more information on the Conference see the CAAC Brussels 2018 Conference Book, CAAC Brussels 2018 Programme and Panels, and the CAAC Brussels Conference Summary.
Panel: Exploring Francophone Spaces in Africa-China Engagements
The Project funded a French-language panel at the conference entitled Exploring Francophone Spaces in Africa-China Engagements. The panel included three of the Project’s Francophone Africa associates and journalists, Gerard Guèdègbé (Benin), Christophe Assogba (Benin), and Hasna Belmekki (Morocco) who assessed the dynamics of reporting on Francophone Africa and China via their own reporting from the region.
Gerard Guèdègbé, who is also the Project’s partner in the October 2018 training workshop in Abidjan, reported the following on the Exploring Francophone Spaces in Africa-China Engagements panel discussion:
At the China-Africa conference in Brussels I shared the experience of coaching and mentoring four francophone reporters to complete their China-Africa grant projects that focused on Benin, the DRC, Morocco, and Burundi. Apart from the stories that were published as the outcomes of these projects, we have learned lessons about how difficult it is for African reporters to have easy access to information and to find reliable sources to give them information they need to produce a good story when they want to report on China-Africa.
We have also found that the type of partnerships China has with a given country can influence the work of journalists in the field. Our grantee from Burundi was not able to speak to farmers freely to document his story on rice production with Chinese technical assistance. The panel was quite interested in discussing issues related to African media business models and media ownership as the main characteristics of the environment in which media practitioners operate. In his comments on the panel Professor Jean Noret spoke about the low level of knowledge about China Africa partnerships especially in francophone Africa and stated that journalists should be equipped to fill the gap of information. Marie Soleil Frère, the moderator of this panel, discussed her experience in Africa working with journalists and noted that training should be key if we expect journalists to play a decisive role in the understanding China’s footprints in Africa.
This panel was mainly about sharing knowledge and experiences, including the reports from the Africa-China Reporting Project of Wits University through its grants to cover topics on relations between China and Africa. It was therefore a question of offering journalists from francophone Africa the opportunity to cover similar subjects on a regular basis. I relied on assets from four subjects, among which were the timber traffic from Nigeria to China through Benin and the construction of a dam in the DRC with Chinese assistance.
Video of the panel Exploring Francophone Spaces in Africa-China Engagements (French):
The features presented and discussed from the Francophone Africa and China Themed Grants Series 2017 were:
- Derb Omar, stronghold of the Chinese traders of Casablanca by Moroccan journalist Hasnae Belmekki
- Chinese-built dam and hydropower plant to address electricity shortfall in the DRC by DRC journalist Gabrielle Nina Mitch
- Benin’s forests being exploited via Nigeria by Beninese journalist Christophe Assogba
- Chinese hybrid rice increasing productivity in Burundi by Burundian journalist Gaspard Maheburwa
Presentation: Networking a quiet community: South African Chinese news reporting and networking
Project Coordinator Barry van Wyk presented a paper at the conference entitled Networking a quiet community: South African Chinese news reporting and networking.
The paper traces the South African Chinese community and how it is networked based on sources from South African Chinese media. This paper is among the first to delve into the local Chinese media and its revelations about the Chinese community.
Networking a quiet community: South African Chinese news reporting and networking relates the timeline of major South African Chinese news events from January to June 2017. The paper expounds from this to outline South African Chinese networks and associations, including especially the South Africa Chinese Community and Police Cooperation Centre, a singular organisation established in 2004 for the protection of Chinese people in South Africa. The paper also expands on the underlying trends in South African Chinese communities relating to security, the environment and wildlife trafficking, culture and education, corruption, and development.
Video of the presentation, Networking a quiet community: South African Chinese news reporting and networking: