“China Files es la fuente latina en China”: Revista Americas Quarterly

In by Simone

La revista Americas Quarterly, publicada por la Americas Society y el Consejo de las Américas, destacó a China Files como la fuente de información para América Latina en China. En esta edición especial sobre China y América Latina, se encuentran diferentes análisis sobre el crecimiento global de China y sobre su relación política y económica con la región. Reproducimos la nota de la revista impresa, escrito por Lina Salazar. 

Latin America’s source in the middle kingdom
By Lina Salazar

Colombian journalist Natalia Tobón, 29, now in China, says that just one cultural encounter can hook Chinese citizens on Latin America. Maybe it starts with Colombian salsa or Argentine wine, but soon it develops into taking Spanish classes and perhaps even traveling to experience Latin America in person.

Today, Tobón’s mission is to provide Latin Americans with a personal understanding of China. “Everyone loves to demonize China because that’s what sells,” she says. “But there are many good things about China that we don’t see.” In 2008, Tobón and Italian journalist Simone Pieranni founded China Files, a Beijing-based press and communications agency.

Tobón first visited China in 2005, when she took a leave from Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá. She returned to Beijing after graduating to improve understanding between the two regions. The distance between Latin America and China is “also social, cultural and intellectual,” she says.

Unable to find funders for a Spanish-language magazine for the Hispanic community in Beijing, Tobón and Pieranni turned to providing media services to Latin American embassies in Beijing and to Chinese companies, among others. Today, major newspapers such as Portafolio in Colombia and La Nación in Argentina contract with China Files.

The service is one of only four media organizations to offer Spanish-language reporting from China—alongside Peru’s El Comercio, Cuba’s Agencia Prensa Latina and Mexico’s La Reforma. The agency’s website, operated by a staff of 11, receives almost 20,000 visits a month. As of November 2011 it was “liked” by 4,432 people on Facebook and had 1,404 Twitter followers.

Latin American media trust China Files’ reporting, says Tobón, because staff are insiders in a hermetic society. “We understand how network dynamics work in China, we know the guanxi (social relations).”

Tobón takes a mild view of Chinese censorship of domestic and foreign publications. Though she concedes that “there are topics we don’t touch,” she says the goal is “to provide information and to present a new perspective on China—not to condemn.”