From Beijing to Villupuram, a Radio Station Spreads Its Reach

While Mandarin broadcasts into China from the BBC World Service have been silenced, and Voice of America’s transmissions face a similar fate, the stations’ Chinese counterpart is expanding. From The Hindu:

S. Pandiyarajan was fiddling around with his shortwave radio set one hot summer evening at Villupuram, Tamil Nadu, when he stumbled upon a strange station.

At first listen, it was a language he couldn’t identify. It sounded like Tamil, but spoken in an accent he could not recognise. He listened on, straining his ears. To his surprise, he discovered that the voices were coming from faraway China.

“I could hear two Chinese people speaking in perfect Tamil!” he said. “And this was Sentamizh [classical Tamil], which you never hear anywhere, anymore, even in Tamil Nadu ….”

With humble beginnings in the civil war-torn China in the 1940s, CRI today is at the centre of a massive multi-billion dollar effort to boost rising China’s “soft power” overseas, sending out daily broadcasts in 63 languages, 24 hours a day, from its expansive multi-storey headquarters in west Beijing ….

The Tamil station started broadcasting in 1963. Since then, it has continued to beam its shows uninterrupted, building up an almost cult following overseas, with its fans even organising themselves into a network of listeners’ clubs.


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