China's involvement in African affairs has grown considerably since the 1990s. An indication of Beijing's influence in the continent, the first daily newspaper printed in Chinese has arrived in Botswana.
Half of it desert land and wedged between South Africa, Zimbabwe and Namibia, Botswana makes most of its revenue from mining minerals (diamond, copper etc). The country manages to retain economic and institutional stability and enjoys freedom of the press - rare achievements in that part of the world.
It's also there, 12,000 kilometres from Beijing, that Chinese entrepreneur Miles Nan, resident in the country for ten years, has set up Africa's first ever newspaper in Chinese. There are currently between 5,000 and 6,000 Chinese inhabitants - out of a population of 1.8 million - living in Botswana. Primarily attracted by the 1990s housing boom, this small community has moved on from construction to textile production, and recently into setting up small shops, already quite familiar to the West, full of trademark "Made in China" merchandise. With few of them able to read English, Mr Nan felt it was about time that the Chinese community got their own newspaper.
CORRECTION - (15 July 09): The Oriental Post is a weekly publication rather than a daily. It is the first Chinese speaking paper in Botswana, but not the first in Africa. In fact there are already three Chinese publications running in South Africa, the first being China Chronicles, formerly China Express, which launched in 1994. Thank you to Danwei for these precisions.
“We shouldn't, and we don't, publish anything and everything”
As well as launching the Oriental Post, Miles Nan is CEO of construction company Mileage (Pty) Ltd, which he set up in the Botswana capital Gaborone in 1999. He's also secretary general of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce there and presides over various charities.
In launching the paper I wanted to improve relations between the Chinese and Botswanas. The Chinese could learn a lot about the culture and diversity in Africa. We also want to publish a few pages in English so that the Botswanans can find out about us too. Concerning Chinese politics, We shouldn't, and we don't, publish anything and everything. It's just like that."
When contacted by FRANCE 24, the Chinese Embassy in Gaborone refuted having all editorial control over the paper.