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China Project for ‘10,000 Villages’ Connects Africa, Striking Alarm at CNN

July 29, 2019 (EIRNS)—In 2015, China’s President Xi Jinping launched a program he called the “10,000 Villages Project,” designed to bring satellite TV access to rural Africa. The astounding success of the program has CNN sounding alarm bells. StarTimes, the primary contractor chosen for the program—which links local households’ televisions to a shared satellite dish—now has over 12 million subscribers in 30 countries across the continent. CNN’s take on this? In an article dated July 23, it writes, “While channels like the BBC reach more people and South African distributor MultiChoice has more subscribers, StarTimes’ breadth of reach has some critics worrying: Does the company, with its close ties to Beijing, now have too much power over African television networks?”

CNN lays the blame for this “stroke of soft-power genius” directly in the British lap, writing: “In 2000 The Economist ran a cover story about Africa titled ‘The Hopeless Continent,’ ” citing the trillions in “development” aid spent by Transatlantic countries after the Ethiopia famine. “Meanwhile China took an entirely different approach,” says CNN.

The same year as that fatalistic headline appeared from the mouthpiece of the Empire, China’s then-President Jiang Zemin launched the “Going Out” strategy, at the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) founding summit. StarTimes, under the direction of Pang Xinxing, then pivoted his business away from domestic China, to “largely underdeveloped” Africa. Not only did StarTimes help African nations make the jump to digital TV (in 2006); in many cases it was the only company in the bidding at the time. The company then extended its dominance through government contracts, as opposed to a consumer-driven online “streaming” approach.

Asked for a statement, Beijing told CNN: “It’s not easy to carry out the 10,000 villages project. Many foreign countries have neither the capability nor willingness to do this. In fact, the project has earned extensive recognition from local governments and people. Last year, elementary students in remote Zambia watched the World Cup thanks to this project. Zambian President Edgar Lungu said publicly several times that the China-Zambia relations are mutually beneficial, and any distorted publicity can’t stop us from advancing our friendship for mutual principles and benefits.”

Ultimately, CNN could not find a single person who would condemn the program. Thus, their worries only increased.

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