While China Daily does not entirely avoid critical engagement with state policy, it tends to report on the topic within very narrow bounds. Don’t hold your breath for much in the way of speaking truth to power. China ranked sixth from bottom in the Freedom of Information index 2011-2012, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Iran, Syria and Turkmenistan. In October, China’s state agencies closed and interrupted sites from the New York Times and the BBC after the New York Times’s report on the family wealth of Premier Wen Jiabao. The Ethiopian government is reported to have taken $1.5bn in Chinese loans for training and technology to help its own efforts to block websites, according to the the New York Times.
China Daily’s backers might retort that the current China-Africa narrative, beset by hyperbole and inaccuracy, hardly shows journalism at its best. And they would be right. Talk of ‘floods’ of Chinese migrant labourers, for instance, might apply to Algeria, but not Ethiopia, where nationals are well represented in the payroll of Chinese firms. China’s government has done business both with sanctioned states like Sudan, as well as stable and democratic ones like Mauritius and Ghana . Talk of China’s involvement in ‘100 dams’ in Africa, meanwhile, have little evidence to back them up, said%
The FT reports in December 2012 on China Daily’s new weekly Africa edition.