Enter the dragon

Published: Monday 30 November -0001

-- China's growing influence in Africa is inimical to democracy in the region, according to Reporters Without Borders. The Paris-based media watchdog's annual report notes that China must take part of the blame for the growing number of arrests of journalists in Africa.

"China gives aid to Africa without asking for political reforms," Leonard Vincent, the spokesperson of Reporters Without Borders told bbc.

The organization's report said many African governments now take action against the media irrespective of international opinion. "African governments all over the continent have dared to do this year what they didn't dare to do the previous year," the report noted.

Reporters Without Border's annual survey of press freedom mentions serial offenders like Ethiopia, Eritrea, Zimbabwe and The Gambia. It is also critical of places like Rwanda, Mali and Benin, where, it says, media freedom used to be respected. Eritrea came at the bottom of the media watchdog's world press freedom list for the first time. The situation in the country "has gone from bad to worse," the report notes.

"The country has been cut off from the rest of the world since major police round-ups in September 2001 and at least four journalists have died in prison," the report says.

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