What It's Like for a Chinese Journalist in Africa to Cover the China-Africa Story

A journalist takes a photo of Chinese President Xi Jinping, using a mobile phone during a joint media conference with South A
A journalist takes a photo of Chinese President Xi Jinping, using a mobile phone during a joint media conference with South African President Jacob Zuma, at Union Building Pretoria, South Africa, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

How foreign journalists report on the China-Africa story is often determined by the national origin of their news organization. While there are no doubt exceptions, the U.S. news media frequently frame China as the neo-colonial aggressor and Africa as the persistent victim of foreign agendas. The French, for their part, too often simply ignore the story and the Chinese frame Sino-African ties in almost exclusively positive terms that echo official policy positions.

These so-called "embedded narratives" run deep, particularly among older journalists, but a new generation of young foreign correspondents in Africa is challenging some of these dated caricatures. Zhang Zizhu is one of them.

Zizhu is a special correspondent in Nairobi for the Hong Kong-based global TV news network Phoenix InfoNews Channel. Zizhu is in an unusual position as a Chinese journalist based in Africa who does not work for any of the official Chinese Communist Party-run media like Xinhua or CCTV Africa. As an independent journalist reporting for a privately-owned TV channel, Zizhu has much more flexibility in the stories she covers and how she frames her reports.

Zizhu joins Eric & Cobus -- in the podcast above -- to reflect on covering the Chinese in Africa with the benefit of being a Mandarin-speaking ethnic Chinese herself. Even with those advantages, however, Zizhu says she still faces many of the same obstacles that frustrate other foreign reporters assigned to report on China's engagement in Africa.

Watch Eric Olander discuss U.S. and Chinese competition for influence in Africa on HuffPost Live: