Africans Countries in danger of falling into China’s “debt trap”
China unquestionably occupies a prominent place in the media in Africa, and rightly so, the reasons are both diverse and controversial.
From a poor country in East Asia to the second largest economic power in the world, this country of more than 1 billion inhabitants holds immense diplomatic power, thanks in particular to its economic model of development based on massive transformation. A policy that has lifted millions of Chinese citizens out of poverty.
And despite this economic success, the media coverage of China in the African media portrays a fairly negative image of the Middle Kingdom. For many, China is this evil character presented to children to scare them, worse an shameless opponent ready to do anything to achieve his goals.
In a geopolitical world landscape in very clear evolution, Beijing does not have the rightful place. On the other hand, it is rather, the image of a country which plays the troublemakers ready for anything to impose itself in the spheres of influences which is widely disseminated and labeled.
China’s presence in Africa has repeatedly been the subject of scrutiny and especially its aid programs scrutinized. Chinese investors, rightly or wrongly, have repeatedly been called predators on the continent in the Western media, playing “debt traps” to get markets.
The “Silk Road” initiative, this set of maritime links and railways between China and the rest of the world has extended its prospects in Africa. This initiative has enabled Beijing to build power plants, thousands of kilometers of roads, railways and ports. Consequently, comments in the media very often dwell on the negative aspects, often describing these projects as too large, too expensive and sometimes too unnecessary. And yet, this same language does not apply to projects funded by investors based in Washington, Brussels, London or even Paris.
But this anti-China speech published in the media is showing a feeling of dishonesty and outright hypocrisy. And without surprise, Sino-African relations suffer.
In Africa, the media should develop effective policies for handling information about China. This lack of credible information makes the African media relay of disinformation and distortion of the facts.
African press houses should develop policies or strategies that seek to account for the history of China-Africa in a correct manner. We should witness reports that present African opinions and not reports that focus on his 5-second sound clips or that simply fail to tell the truth.
They should present the Chinese as partners and stakeholders in the development of Africa. These should be topics that build trust, not reports that stir up hatred and xenophobic feelings.