The outspoken Chinese national daily Global Times has criticised celebrated environmentalist Jane Goodall for her criticism of Chinese “colonialism” in Africa.
“It’s not only insulting, it’s wrong in many aspects,” the commentary  by a contributor named Wu Yi read.
“The European colonialists invaded Africa, dominated Africans, and took the continent’s resources for nothing, while the Chinese conduct business with the Africans and pay reasonable prices for whatever they could. It’s a huge difference," the article said.
The newspaper, published by the Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily, often replies to criticisms against Chinese government practices abroad with commentaries and editorials aimed at a foreign audience.
It did not publish the same commentary in its Chinese-language version.
In an interview with Agence France-Presse published last week , Goodall, who will turn 80 in April and has devoted her life to studying primates in Africa, said China was causing more damage to the continent’s environment today than European colonialists did, owing to better technology.
“In Africa, China is merely doing what the colonialist did,” she said at the time. “They want raw materials for their economic growth, just as the colonialists were going into Africa and taking the natural resources, leaving people poorer."
However, the newspaper countered any suspicion about Beijing's motives, suggesting it was promoting development.
“There seems to be a persistent paranoia about China in Africa,” the Global Times commentary argued. “It’s wrong to reject development itself for the fear of possible environmental issues.”
The Global Times commentary failed to mention Goodall’s praise for the Chinese government’s programme to stop soil erosion in the Loess Plateau on the Yellow River, the crushing of illegal ivory and a ban on shark fin at official banquets.
Jane Goodall became active in China in 1994 with her Roots & Shoots Environmental Education Programme, only three years after establishing the group in Tanzania.
It now has offices in Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu, Hong Kong and Taipei. A Jane Goodall Institute was set up in Beijing in 2000.