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Building bridges: China engages African media

MWAZIPEZA CHANDA, Wuhan, China
BUILDING bridges has been a major component of the development of China's central province of Hubei, and in that nation's quest to further expand the potential for more economic and social growth, partnerships are now being sought with African media.
Travelling through the modernised fast-paced metropolis of Central China, it becomes hard to believe that China is ranked as a developing nation, but it is the gap between the abundance of the thriving eastern part of the country and the western mountainous areas that has pushed the leadership to formulate different initiatives to ensure all citizens have an improved quality of life.
The media has played an integral role in educating and allowing dialogue amongst the 1.3 billion citizens of China.
Liang Weinian, a member of the standing committee of Hubei Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), said the region has enjoyed rapid industrial, agricultural and service industry growth in the past 30 years.
In his toast, during a banquet for African communication officers, in the provincial capital of Wuhan, Mr Liang said China values the relationship it has with Africa and was hopeful that the study tour would act as a catalyst to further drive the mutually beneficial Sino-Africa bond.
The communication officers drawn from Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania Uganda and Zimbabwe representing the print, television and radio sectors, were recently in China to attend a seminar arranged by that country's Ministry of Commerce.
China has long held the African continent as a partner, stating that the citizens are brothers and sisters.
In July 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed to build Hubei Province into a strategic pivot for the promotion of the central region of the country.
This has seen the establishment of a multi-level strategic system that saw the establishment of the Wuhan city circle, Western Hubei ecological and tourism circle, the Yangtze River economic belt as well as the Han River ecological belt.
Hubei Province features a wide range of industries including automobile, steel, petro-chemical, agricultural, electronic, textile, heavy industrial equipment and scientific research under the Emerging Industry Clusters scheme.
Impressively, the country has managed to blend traditional customs, political ideology and a rich history to drive the nation’s growth. All aspects of the Chinese psyche aims to find balance, purpose and happiness.
Even in the light of the impressive economic growth that China has recorded, there has been an insistence by many officials that more has to be done to ensure that all people have an improved quality of life.
The Chinese Dream continues to evolve and is shared through the media which is mainly public-owned and focuses more on what is termed constructive journalism.
During a study tour to Hubei Daily Media Group, the communication officers were given a background of the development of public communication in China.
China's media history spans over 300 years as many villages had small print presses that would be used to share information on community events, laws and tax.
The history of the development of the electronic and print media in the province as well as its link to the government structures and political ideology is well documented and archived at the head office in Wuhan.
During China’s independence fight and subsequent introduction of communism, the media played a major role in sharing the aspirations of the new leadership and providing a platform for debate.
Hubei Province has a population of over 61 million people and the Hubei Media Group produces a provincial daily newspaper and over 400 publications aimed at individual cities and districts.
The media group has embraced the use of new media (website publications, digital video and audio productions) as well as using various locally developed social media platforms to share news information and public opinion including developing various types of on-line publications for the millions netizens outside of the provincial circulation.
The television wing of the media group has also taken advantage of digital media to increase its coverage and content.
With over 100 television and radio channels, the media group has been able to create revenue and jobs in the various sectors as well as promoting the use of digital broadcasting for tele-medicine and commerce in rural and hard-to-reach areas.
This use of digital television is something that Africa can take advantage of. The various news, drama and entertainment programmes that are produced in different districts of the province are exchanged.
The commercial benefits of the province's wide media group also brings a commercial benefit as a larger audience allows for higher revenue.
The media also work closely with the culture, fashion, tourism, scientific research, agricultural, medical and political structures to ensure the public is kept informed of the latest developments and plans.
The integration of the media in the social aspects of community-level governance is something the African media can reflect on and learn from – acting as a bridge between people.

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