Journalists and the China story: Tunisia

Chinese and Tunisian ties have never been strong, but China’s recent outreach shows just how far its media footprint extends.


Mutual Exchange?

The IFJ conducted a roundtable of journalists in Tunisia in February 2021. At this roundtable, some journalists said that they had participated in exchange programs offered and subsidized by China. These exchanges were considered important to get a better understanding of Chinese culture but other journalists also expressed concerns about the lack of impartiality exhibited by those who went on exchange programs after their journey.

As the birthplace of the Arab Spring, journalists at the roundtable asserted that the country enjoyed an environment of free speech and freedom of expression which does not match with Chinese government policies and approaches. For this reason, China has invested in technology infrastructure through supporting Tunisian engineering universities and through making deals with the government rather than financially supporting media outlets, as it did in other countries like Myanmar.

Roundtable participants also said that private media companies in Tunisia have made commercial and marketing agreement with Huawei. This has meant that television shows and advertisements had promoted Huawei's product and journalists have been given gifts, such as tablets, to journalists as a way of currying favour to the Chinese perspective.

The roundtable concluded that there was a single model of Chinese media presence in Tunisia but in the end, all media influence methods intersected.

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