Democrat Georgia Senate candidate Jon Ossoff’s production company, Insight TWI, produced a two-part report for Al Jazeera in 2015 that praised China’s growing power and influence in Africa, two years after he became the company’s CEO.
The report, featuring Sierra Leonean investigative journalist Sorious Samura, begins with an interview with an elderly African woman talking about how, when she was young, “white men” came, took their land, and destroyed their forests.
Samura contrasts that with the “new elephant” in Africa — China.
“China is now Africa’s largest trading partner. If you fly into Kenya, China greets you at the airport,” Samura said. “In just 10 years, China’s trade with the continent has gone from $10 billion to over $200 billion.”
Samura reported that an estimated 30 percent of all new projects in Africa are the result of Chinese investment. He gave passing mention to China’s desire for the “freeflow of mineral resources.”
Samura called the projects “impressive” and cited a $25 billion railway paid for and built by China linking the capitals of Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and South Sudan. “The west appears to be losing influence,” Samura said.
The documentary then featured several African countries’ leaders praising China. Uhuru Kenyatta, president of Kenya, is shown saying, “The age or the era of dictating to small nations or trying to force down specific agendas are over.”
Samura, who won awards for his reporting in the early 2000s, is largely uncritical of China in the report. In contrasting the West with China, he said:
Before signing off on these multibillion dollar deals, Chinese officials are not demanding like the West is that African leaders conform to western standards of human rights, economic reform and anti-corruption.
In Africa, many see this as a welcome break from the evangelism of Western governments who have been accused of putting undue pressure on them to adopt Western-style democracies.
Samura then added on-camera:
For the first time since the Cold War, African leaders like President Kenyatta can do more than simply criticize the West, they can now look elsewhere for meaningful economic and political support, and China’s policy of no-strings attached investment contrasts starkly with the tradition of Western conditional aid.
Samura interviewed Kenya’s top official for its ministry of infrastructure, John Mosonik, whom he called a “fan of the Chinese way of doing things” and said with China’s support “is building thousands of kilometers of new roads and connecting the country like never before.”
Samura asked him, “Is it that the Chinese are, you know, respecting the Africans — arguments that I’ve heard that the West comes in as the master and therefore they don’t want to bend or they don’t want to learn or embrace the African ways — is this part of the problem?”
Mosonik responded, “Yes, I think I agree with you entirely.”
Samura told him, “It must be exciting for you now, you have choices.”
Samura also reported that China is not only bringing its business to Africa, but also its “power and influence,” noting that after violence in Kenya, “China threw its weight behind demands” to have a International Criminal Court trial against Kenya’s president suspended.
“Nothing did more to solidify Kenya’s growing bond with its Eastern partner,” Samura said.
The report also featured two Chinese nationals in Africa who spoke glowingly about the kinship between Africans and Chinese and how both have faced criticism from the West.
Samura does raise some questions about China’s influence on whether African leaders will fight corruption or not and features several Africans who raise that issue, but he does not substantively seek to investigate that issue, or the potential effect of cheap Chinese loans and what many in the West call “debt trap diplomacy” — where some poor nations accept Chinese loans they cannot pay back, leading to the handing over of ownership of infrastructure to China.
Kenya was ranked in 2020 as one of the top ten most-perceived corrupt nations by U.S. News & World Report.
Ossoff campaign spokesperson Miryam Lipper reached out to Breitbart News after this story was published and asked to add a statement to what she called a “false story.”
Several years after the Insight TWI report, a Chinese Communist Party (CCP)-linked media company, PCCW, paid Ossoff’s company, reportedly for two documentaries about the Islamic State produced in 2016.
As previously reported by Breitbart News, PCCW Media Limited is owned by Richard Li — who has spoken out against pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong — and the Chinese state-owned China Unicom, which is run by CEO Wang Xiaochu, a member of the CCP.
Ossoff did not initially report the payments from PCCW or Al Jazeera in his candidate financial disclosure statement in May, for sources of income over $5,000 in the last two years. However, two months later, he amended his statement to add PCCW and Al Jazeera the list of sources of income.
His campaign first said the omission was a “paperwork oversight,” but then later said they received less than $5,000 from PCCW but reported the payment for the sake of transparency.
Ossoff has faced a growing number of questions about the CCP-linked company payments, as well as about other ties to the CCP.
In 2012, after he left working for Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) as a national security aide, he promoted China’s official news outlet, Xinhua News, telling his Twitter followers: “Esp. during 18th Party Congress, #follow @XHNews (Xinhua – Chinese state media). #ff.”
And as reported by the Washington Free Beacon, Ossoff’s millionaire father met with Chinese “dignitaries” while touring a 60-foot yacht he purchased in 2008 from a China-based shipbuilder tied to Communist Party officials in 2008.
Ossoff has made his production company a central part of his run against incumbent Sen. David Perdue (R-GA). According to the Washington Post:
He has made his films a centerpiece of his campaign, seeking to draw a parallel between his work with investigative reporting and what he said would be a similar effort to uncover such abuses in the United States, if he is elected to the Senate. ‘Fighting corruption is my job,’ he says in an ad showing images from the movies.
The Post reported that Ossoff has declined its request for financial information about his company.
Fox News’s Peter Doocy on Thursday questioned Ossoff on why he waited until after the June Georgia Senate primary to disclose the payments from the PCCW.
Ossoff responded, “This is utter nonsense. My company has produced multiple investigations of atrocities committed by ISIS war criminals.”
Ossoff added, “And these investigations have been aired by dozens of television channels in dozens of countries all over the world. And one of those television channels was in Hong Kong. That is the entire substance of Senator Perdue’s campaign against me.” He then began attacking Perdue.
When Doocy noted the alleged Chinese spy operation targeting Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), and asked whether someone in China could be attempting to influence him, Ossoff lashed out.
“C’mon man. You’re a serious reporter,” Ossoff said. “Do you really believe that a TV channel in Hong Kong airing an investigation that my company produced of ISIS war crimes in Iraq is what you’re implying that it is, or what David Perdue is implying that it is?”