African journalists reporting on Chinese engagement in Africa have the opportunity to create awareness and shape public policy with reporting grants from the Africa-China Reporting Programme at Wits University in South Africa.
Barry Van, the project co-ordinator of Africa–China Reporting Project at Wits University, told journalists attending a media workshop on reporting Africa-China engagements last week at Azzemen Hotel in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to take advantage of the opportunity.
Van said they are opportunities of between $300-1500 to tell Africa-China stories. He said all the journalists need to visit the programme’s website and apply.
He said the programme was looking for stories that have changed people’s lives.
Opening the workshop, Chen Zufeng, the Charge d’ Affairs of the Chinese Mission to the African Union implored the African media to report objectively on Chinese engagements with Africa.
“Media plays a critical role in fostering and deepening the friendship and co-operation between China and Africa.
Despite the great achievements, China-Africa relation is receiving a mixed reaction from the media, in particular those stationed outside China and Africa,” he told the African and Chinese journalists attending the workshop.
“There remains a misunderstanding. Some tend to cast China and its engagement in Africa in a negative way, including labeling the relationship “Chinese threat” or “neocolonialism”.
“It is unfortunate that they turn a blind eye to the contribution China has made towards peace, stability and prosperity in Africa.”
Chen highlighted the achievement of the Chinese –Africa partnerships from the Standard Gauge Railways in Kenya, the Addis-Djibouti railways and the industrial parks in Uganda and other countries such as Ethiopia.
Apollos Nwafor, the Pan Africa director at Oxfam International who organised the workshop, called on journalists to write stories that will create awareness and influence public policy.
Dr Yoon Jung Park, the executive director Chinese in Africa discussing “The role of the media and journalists in Africa-China Partnership; Opportunities and challenges” wondered why some people were criticising Chinese actions in Africa.
“The criticism to some extent is not fair,” she said, adding that the West fears being displaced”.
An Africa-China programme Forum on Africa- China Co-operation (FOCAC) where China interacts with African governments for mutual benefit has been active since 2000.