China accused of jamming TV, websites in Ethiopia

The Chinese government is facing accusations that it has helped block news websites in Ethiopia and jammed Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT) and other broadcasters, including the Voice of America and German's Deutsche Welle Amharic services.

After the successful uprisings against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Tunisia's Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali through demonstrations coordinated in part via news websites and social media networks earlier this year, reprisals against similar anti-regime movements are taking place in countries including Libya, Syria and Uganda.

In Ethiopia, the People's Republic of China has been providing training, technology and technical assistance to the regime to enable it to jam ESAT's transmission, according to Ethiopian Free Press Journalists Association (EFJA) President Kifle Mulat. ESAT has just resumed transmission to Ethiopia after nearly two months of interruption.

Mulat said that stifling freedom of expression and undermining efforts to spread democratic values in Ethiopia by China sets a bad precedent in the whole of Africa.

"EFJA is seriously concerned over the collaboration of oppressive regimes to make life difficult not only for media organizations and journalists but also ordinary citizens who are denied a voice in their own country," said Mulat in a statement.

"ESAT continued transmitting on Intelsat, an [American] satellite company. While diplomatic effort to disrupt ESAT transmission failed, the regime managed to jam ESAT's signals using the jamming equipment provided by the Chinese government," Mulat added.