Aussie state media journalist gives voice to stranded African students seeking return to China

Thousands of students enrolled in Chinese universities remain stranded outside the country since the pandemic began, but one Australian state-media worker has been offering them a voice amid its strictly-controlled media environment. Chinese state media is synonymous with propaganda and censorship. Still, one Australian journalist employed by a provincial television station in the Guangdong Province of South China has been working hard to help African university students stranded by the pandemic to return to China.

Aussie state media journalist gives voice to stranded African students seeking return to China

Hazza Harding, the host of the daily news program “Guangdong Report,” who broadcasts to the province’s 120 million residents, has covered the situation, interviewing stranded students and posting updates to his social media pages.

As the upcoming semester is set to start in August, time is ticking for the stranded students.

After learning of the situation students are facing in Africa, the television host interviewed students from the continent and India, including a medical student from Nigeria.

The segment marked one of the first times Chinese news reported in response to the issue and a rare example of trustworthy journalism from one of Chinese state media’s foreign faces.

On Twitter, Curtis S. Chin, a former US Ambassador, forwarded the segment, and the ‘Take Ghanaian students back to China’ Twitter account expressed thanks to the Australian television presenter.

Twitter account for stranded Ghanaian students expresses thanks

The China International Student Union also expressed gratitude, saying in a Tweet, “Many thanks to @GDTVhazza for covering the issue of international students waiting to return to China. We hope the relevant authorities will endeavour to solve our concerns” while using the #takeUsBackToChina hashtag.

At the World Economic Forum last month, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said that “All international students may return to China to continue their studies should they so wish”, though flights to the country remain limited and expensive.

“My main focus is on local news in Guangdong,” Hazza Harding tells Pulse.

“But when I heard of the struggles students around the world were experiencing, especially our friends in Africa, I knew I had to follow the story. Guangzhou is a city known for its large African population”.

Hazza is well known among international student circles now for his efforts and stands out from other non-Chinese journalists employed by state media for his empathetic and neutral approach to reporting on the news.

As host of “Face Time”, a program broadcast on GDTV World, Hazza says he has also interviewed many African ambassadors and consul-generals to China.

“I have interviewed diplomats from many African countries here in Guangzhou. When the pandemic is over, I hope to travel to Africa to see for myself the wonderful countries I have heard about from them”, Hazza tells Pulse.

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