This series reviews coverage of Africa in Chinese newspapers, aiming to highlight interesting reporting in China on a range of African topics, countries and regions.
This week Hangzhou Daily tells the tale of a Chinese wood trader that was kidnapped from his home in Nigeria and eventually ransomed for 100,000 renminbi. Also: A Chinese company builds Morocco’s first cable-suspended bridge; Dalian is ready to send the Lagos light rail vehicles to Nigeria; Shaolin Temple welcomes annual African Kung Fu class; and a “young journalist” from Zhejiang has a novel scheme to fix Africa’s traditional problems.
Last week a journalist from Hangzhou Daily interviewed a 49-year-old man in a hospital in Hangzhou, the provincial capital of Zhejiang province. With a thick gauze over his right eye, the man (given the pseudonym Hua An) had just returned from a seven-day kidnapping ordeal in Nigeria. Hua An related how he was in the habit of going to Nigeria for several months at a time to buy wood, which he would then sell in China. But on the evening of July 1 he was suddenly accosted by three armed men in his backyard at his house in Nigeria; the men shoved him into a van and beat him unconscious with rifle butts. Hua An had heard that law and order in Africa were not quite ideal, but he had not expected to be kidnapped so brazenly himself.
Hua An was packed in a trunk and driven over rough dirt roads, and was eventually deposited in the wilderness where there were no roads, no people, and not even any trees - just bush. He was dragged around in the mud for days, and was given only three apples to eat.
Hua An later learned that the kidnappers had phoned his family and demanded a ransom of 50 million naira, or about a 1.6 million renminbi. Hua An’s relatives did not have nearly as much funds available, but after soliciting help from friends and family as well as other wood traders, and after haggling with the kidnappers, they finally agreed on a ransom price of 100,000 renminbi. The first exchange attempt failed, however, as the kidnappers knew the police was involved. After more negotiations the money was eventually successfully handed over and Hua An was dropped off in the street.
Hua An decided to return to Hangzhou immediately as his damaged right eye - where he was beaten with rifle butts - urgently required surgery. Only there in the hospital, relating his experience to the journalist, was Hua An finally able to start recovering from his ordeal.
Citing a Xinhua News Agency report, the newspaper of the Chinese army last week reported that Morocco’s first cable-suspended bridge, the 950-meter Mohammed VI Bridge linking the capital Rabat with the city of Sale, was opened to traffic on July 7.
The project was undertaken by China's Zhongtie Major Bridge Engineering Group Co., and is considered a landmark project for China’s bridge-building expertise in Africa.
This newspaper, published in the port city of Dalian in Liaoning province, last week reported that construction of the vehicles for Lagos’ Chinese-made Blue Line, the first section of the Lagos Rail Mass Transit system currently under construction in Nigeria, has been completed in Dalian by China Dalian Locomotive and Rolling Stock Co. The light rail vehicles have a modular design and are based on the vehicles used for the city of Tianjin’s Line 2 subway, although the speed of the new vehicles has been increased from 80 km/hour to 100 km/hour.
China Dalian Locomotive is one of the Chinese rolling stock manufacturers currently active in several African countries; another is Changchun Railway Vehicles Company Ltd. (长春轨道客车), which is involved in Addis Ababa’s new Chinese-made light rail system.
Every year from 2013 the famous Shaolin Temple in Henan province has organized a Kung Fu training class especially for Africans. This newspaper, produced in Zhengzhou, the Henan provincial capital about 90 minutes’ drive from Shaolin, learned from China’s Ministry of Culture that this year’s class commenced on July 6 with 20 participants from five African countries, namely Congo (Brazzaville), Guinea, Comoros, Madagascar and Mauritius. Although all the students will have their own special focus areas, each will spend three months at the temple for intensive training and meditation.
On July 7 the website of the Shaolin Temple published a post on the welcoming of the 20 African students to Shaolin Temple:
This newspaper from Zhejiang province prints a regular section in which school pupils write short news stories as “young journalists”. In last week’s edition one young pupil from a school in the city of Jinhua in Zhejiang province wrote a short report after reading the book 非洲:非洲四大古国穿越之旅 (Colorful Africa: Travel Journal Through Four Ancient African Kingdoms) by Chén Dōngléi (陈冬雷). Published in 2015, the book aimed to express the beauty of the diverse African landscape with such sights as the Great Rift Valley and majestic rivers and grasslands; it purposely aimed to avoid more traditional visions of African disease, war and famine.
After reading the book, “young journalist” Wú Mòhán (吴墨涵) writes that the vision of such a resplendent Africa leaves one with a very deep impression. Still, although Africa is beautiful, young Wú writes, the biggest problems of the people of Africa are still disease, famine, and drought. But Wú has a scheme to fix all this:
In the future I want to invent a large-scale transport vessel that can bring the ice of the South Pole to the African mainland, block by block, to help the people irrigate the land and make it into an oasis. At that time the land can be made fertile and large numbers of cattle can graze, there can be modern factories with large buildings in-between, while from the forest the gurgling sound of the flowing Nile River will still be heard.
This scheme might be one for the future, but Wú concludes by saying that Africa’s beautiful animals and environment must be protected now and preserved for the future.