China has long been investing big money into Africa, in construction, natural resources, housing, and other projects. Increasingly, though, China is also pouring money into news and media on the continent, bringing two Chinese television news channels, radio, and written articles by Xinhua, China's state-sponsored news service, to places like Kenya, reports the New York Times. "You would have to be blind not to notice the Chinese media’s arrival," said an editor at Kenya's The Daily Nation, which began a partnership with Xinhua last year. "It's a full-on charm offensive."
It's also a $7 billion PR campaign by Beijing aimed at Africa and the developing world, as China tries to create a counterpoint to Western influences. And the country's reach is spreading: CCTV claims 200 million viewers outside of China and is available in six languages, including Arabic. And Xinhua has 23 bureaus across Africa, employing scores of local journalists. But critics point out that China's media have little interest developing freedom of expression, and that the Chinese government helps many governments block broadcasts by dissident media groups.