Beijing: CGTN Arabic, the Chinese TV channel based in Dubai, has a message for the Arab world: ‘See the difference’.
The channel aims to “show real China” to the Arab audience, and to link both sides politically, economically, culturally, commercially as well as in the humanitarian field.
Speaking to a group of media representatives who visited Beijing recently, Jia Peng, director of CGTN Arabic, said: “We have three goals: Introduce China to the Arab audience, introduce the Chinese viewpoint vis-a-vis international problems, including Arab issues, to Arab viewers, and cover Chinese-Arab joint activities.”
The Arabic service of CGTN was originally launched in 2009 as the Arabic service of the China Central Television CCTV (formerly Beijing Television).
In 2017, it was relaunched as CGTN in five foreign languages — Arabic, English, French, Spanish and Russian.
CGTN Arabic is owned by China Global Television Network, which is a subsidiary of China Central Television.
The 24-hour channel is broadcast on both ArabSat and NileSat.
When it was relaunched in January 2017, it came out with social media tools: Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter.
Today, the channel prides itself of the high number of followers on Facebook, who are currently estimated at 13.5 million.
CGTN Arabic has chosen Dubai as its regional base, as the emirate is considered a “centre for transportation” and connects different parts of the world. It has the facilities needed for television broadcasting, Peng said. However, other Chinese media, such as the radio service and newspapers, are based in Cairo.
The channel is trying to be the bridge that will bring Arabs and Chinese closer, Peng said.
An example, he said, was the joint Arab-Chinese Forum that was held recently in Beijing. Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a speech in which he stressed the importance of building stronger bonds with Arab countries.
CGTN’s programmes includes political news, entertainment series, cultural and tourism shows. They are all broadcast abroad and cannot be viewed inside China.
The programmes include one on learning Chinese, another on Islamic cuisine in reference to halal food, and movies and documentaries on countries related to the One-Belt, One-Road initiative.
The initiative is the modern equivalent of the ancient Silk Road, which connected China with the Arab world and Central Asia. The modern initiative is Xi’s brainchild.
Viewers of CGTN come from Arab countries including Egypt, Algeria, Morocco and Iraq, Peng said.
Currently, the Arabic Chinese channel is collaborating with Omani and Saudi channels to produce documentaries on Arab civilisation and animation programmes.