Frequently Asked Questions about the China Africa Project.
We firmly believe in the value of transparency at the China Africa Project and to be as open as possible about everything we do, how we do it and why. The following FAQs represent some of the most common questions that we get about us and the CAP. We’ll continue to add to this page as more questions arise. In the meantime, if there’s anything you’d like to know that’s not addressed below, please feel free to email us directly: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com and we would be happy to answer any further questions you may have.
QUESTION: All of your content used to be free, why do you now charge a subscription?
ANSWER: We produce a mix of free and subscriber-supported content. Our podcasts, Student xChange, and social media content are all free. We do charge a subscription fee of $149 a year or $15 a month for our daily email newsletter as well as access to CAP’s News Feed and exclusive analysis content. Producing high-quality journalism content is difficult, time-consuming and requires a considerable investment that funds generated from subscriptions help to support. We intentionally kept the subscription fees low to make CAP’s content accessible to the widest audience possible.
QUESTION: Can I share your newsletter and articles?
ANSWER: Absolutely! Our goal is to reach the largest audience possible with these ideas and to engage in these fascinating discussions. Please feel free to share the newsletters and articles, even if it is paid content. Getting the ideas out there is most important.
QUESTION: Besides subscriptions, how else does the CAP earn money?
ANSWER: We currently receive two modest grants from the Africa China Reporting Project at Wits University and the European Climate Commission to underwrite the costs of running the China Africa Project and to support coverage sustainability issues within the China-Africa discourse.
We are committed to editorial independence and do not receive funds, other than subscription fees, from any organization that will compromise our autonomy.
QUESTION: Does the CAP have fulltime staff, and if so, where are they located?
ANSWER: Cobus lives and works in Johannesburg where he is the Senior China-Africa Researcher at the South African Institute of International Affairs, his full-time day job. Cobus continues to work only part-time, in his spare time specifically, on the China-Africa Project.
Eric now works full-time on the China Africa Project, producing the daily newsletter and maintaining the CAP website. He’s based in Ho Chi Minh City where he lives with his family. He moved to Saigon after living two years in Shanghai. Unable to find a job that he wanted in Shanghai, Eric then decided to move back to Vietnam where he could still remain close to China (it’s only a 3.5-hour flight from Saigon to Shanghai for example). Prior to 2017, Eric lived in Vietnam for 5 years where he ran the country’s largest all-business cable news TV channel and also ran digital operations for the French fashion magazine ELLE.
QUESTION: Where are Eric and Cobus from?
ANSWER: Cobus is from South Africa and lives in Johannesburg. Eric is originally from the United States, born and raised in Berkeley, California, but has spent much of his adult life abroad living and working in Tokyo, Beijing, Taipei, Hong Kong, Singapore, Kinshasa, Paris, Shanghai and now in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
QUESTION: Is there any organization behind the CAP?
ANSWER: No. The CAP was started by Eric Olander in 2010 as a simple blog when Eric was living in Kinshasa. A few months later, when Eric moved to Paris to work as a producer and later as the Editor in Chief of FRANCE24.com, he put a call out on Twitter for someone to help him produce the podcast and write China-Africa-related content for the CAP’s nascent Facebook page. Cobus answered the call and the CAP as we know it today formally launched. When we started the CAP we genuinely thought it would run out of steam within a year but we figured it was a topic that would interest us so why not give it a try? From our apartments, we produced the weekly podcast and posted daily updates on social media channels that grew from just a Facebook page to now include Twitter, Medium, YouTube and LinkedIn.
Other than the two modest grants the CAP receives (mentioned above), the CAP is not involved, connected or otherwise affiliated with any other group or individuals. The CAP has been and continues to be a venture run by just the two of us as equal partners.
QUESTION: Why don’t you produce content in other languages, particularly Chinese?
ANSWER: It’s been a longheld dream of ours to localize the CAP into different languages, namely Arabic, French, Swahili, and Chinese among others. The biggest challenge has always been time. It takes a lot of time and effort to build the platforms, manage the content and then to assemble a team of translators and content creators who are as passionate about the subject as we are. This also requires money and, as a bootstrapped/self-funded initiative, we felt that it would be better for us to allocate the limited resources from our personal savings to focus on English-language content.
Back in the mid-2000s we opened a Weibo account and started to publish some of our editorial content on the popular Chinese platform Netease. Those two experiments didn’t last very long, though, and we decided to stop publishing in Chinese for two reasons:
- CENSORSHIP: China’s onerous content restrictions limit our ability to have the kind of open discussion that we feel is so important. Rather than censor ourselves, we would rather remain in control of our content. So, rather than produce a watered-down version of our content that can accommodate China’s strict censorship guidelines, we decided that we would instead work directly (human-to-human) to create customized content for the Chinese market. Case in point: the 2015 Reporting FOCAC website and the 2018 FOCAC Reporting Guides.
- SECURITY: It is well-established that the Chinese government is not as concerned about foreigners producing English-language content for an international audience. The moment, though, that the government believes that content is being directed at its own people, in their native language, and is not subject to the usual censorship regimen that standard Chinese content must undergo, then problems begin to arise. Therefore, even though Eric is fluent in written and spoken Mandarin, we felt that it would be prudent to avoid producing material in Chinese both for our own safety and for the people we work with inside China.
Question: Where can I find out more information about Eric and Cobus?
ANSWER: Cobus’ professional bio on the South African Institute of International Affairs website is a good place to start. More information is also available on his LinkedIn page.
The best place to find out more about Eric’s background and experience is on his LinkedIn page.