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September 18, 2018 - Updated on September 21, 2018

South Africa: Journalist loses column after publishing an article critical of China

PHOTO: TWITTER @AZADESSA
A columnist with Independent Media, the South African second largest media group partially controlled by Chinese investors, denounced the sudden end of his column after publishing an article critical of China.

South African journalist and columnist Azad Essa denounced on Thursday, September 6th, the sudden end of his column "At the World's End" on the South African second largest media group Independent Media, known online as IOL, following a story condemning the persecution of Uyghurs in China. According to explanation provided by the management team of IOL, a "redesign of the newspaper" would have made it necessary to immediately stop the chronicle and to replace the journalist.


This pretext in all likelihood conceals the media’s desire not to displease its Chinese investors; in reality, 20% of IOL is controlled by China-Africa Private Development Fund (CADFUND) and China International Television Corporation (CITVC).


RSF denounces such a serious attack on the editorial independence of an online daily. "In a democracy like South Africa, it is not acceptable that the editorial line depends on the nationality of its investors, decries Cédric Alviani, director of RSF East Asia Office. “This example reflects Beijing’s growing influence outside its borders as it seeks to impose a new world media order, by which journalistic ethics and citizens’ right to information would be excluded.”


In South Africa, Chinese group StarTimes has become the majority shareholder of the satellite television provider Top TV. In Senegal, national daily Le Soleil distributes Chinafrique, which is published by Chinese national magazine Beijing Review, without charge. In Europe, according to a survey by Bloomberg News, China has invested nearly 3 billion euros in equity interests in various media outlets in the past decade.


China occupies the bottom of the 2018 RSF World Press Freedom Index (176th out of 180 countries).