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Media drives changing perceptions of China in Uganda

Updated: 2012-09-27 15:48
By Liu Xiangrui (

Ugandan public perception of China is shifting, in large part thanks to the country's media.

As trade ties have developed between the two countries over the past decade so an increasing number of Ugandan journalists have visited China and returned to write their stories.

"There is increasing interaction between Uganda and China and growing mutual understanding as people from both countries visit each other. More journalists are visiting China and coming back with interesting stories," Barbara Kaija, editor-in-chief at Vision Group, a Ugandan media company, told a Chinese press delegation at her organization's office in Kampala recently.

China and Uganda have a long connection. When the east African country became independent from Britain in 1962, China was among the first countries to send its congratulations.

China has also sent considerable amounts of aid to Uganda over the past decade and recently funded the building of its largest stadium and state house.

"For a long time China was closed and for people who did not have a chance to go there, they most likely could not understand what China was like," said Kaija.

She still recalls how impressed she was with the amount of development in China when she first visited in 2000.

"I couldn't believe my eyes. This is how a real visit can help disperse illusions," she said.

Interest in China has grown as trade ties between the two countries have grown. More than 260 Chinese companies have set up business in Uganda, creating in excess over 30,000 jobs.

Kaija believes the relationship between China and Uganda is based on common interests.

"The government understands that and the press understands. Now we are trying to communicate it to ordinary people," she said.

Journalists with Vision Group have noticed a gradual shift in the Ugandan media's China reports with interest moving away from politics onto economic growth, technology and human interest stories.

Kaija's organization has increased the number of China-related stories it runs from Chinese media sources including China Central Television and Xinhua news agency.

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