Monday, 24 Mar 2014

Chinese and Kenyan scribes exchange ideas

by Boni Odinga, Internews in Kenya

Kenyan journalists working from the Internews’ Media Resource Center had a great time comparing notes with their Chinese counterparts thanks to a trip organised by Internews China. Six leading Chinese journalists were in Kenya as part of a China-East Africa media bridge aimed at building awareness about the importance and impact of Sino-African relations. The Chinese journalists were keen to find out more about environmental and wildlife protection, the local media landscape and mutual perception .

“My experience is that in general, most East Africans are friendly towards Chinese people. At the same time I had no idea so many Chinese living and working in the region have been victims of armed robberies and criminal violence. This is largely unreported and unacknowledged in China,” one Chinese journalist observed.

It seems at the fore of the Chinese journalists minds was the issue of poaching and environmental degradation, more so given the number of times China is mentioned as the destination of most poached elephant tusks.

“Before coming to Kenya, I thought most timber and ivory smuggled to China came from Kenya itself, now I realize Kenya effectively protects its natural resources but has become a transit corridor for smuggled timber and ivory from other countries such as Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia," another Chinese journalist noted.

During the 10 days visit, the six journalists from print, online and TV media met with their Kenyan counterparts and Nairobi-based Chinese professionals from civil society, eco-tourism, government and international bodies and academics. Some of the meetings were facilitated by the Internews Kenya team and will allow for on-going virtual exchanges to develop closer ties among Chinese and Kenyan journalists

As a result of the media immersion, a number of media pieces will be produced and circulated by leading Chinese media, and a round-table will take place in Beijing, including in the Kenyan Embassy in Beijing to share lessons learnt and look at future initiatives.

“When I compare levels of governance between China and East African nations, I have to say the Chinese government delivers more. But it is also true that East African countries have a much more vibrant civil society than China,” noted another journalist.

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