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China’s public diplomacy towards Africa

KIM, YUNHEE (2018) China’s public diplomacy towards Africa. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



This thesis analyzes China’s public diplomacy in the field of Sino-Africa relations, arguing that China has adopted public diplomacy with soft power as a vital component of its foreign policy on the continent from the early 2000s onward. The necessity of public diplomacy in China’s foreign policy was driven by the objective of developing close economic ties with African countries even as Beijing faced manifold issues in its relations. To comprehend the link between China’s public diplomacy and Sino-Africa economic ties, the research adopts an International Relations approach of neoliberal institutionalism, examining the use of public diplomacy to manage the asymmetric relations between China and Africa, in which China wields economic dominance over Africa. With the rising importance of public diplomacy globally in the twenty-first century, China has employed its public diplomacy to explain and justify its rising global influence, and to dispel negative publicity in the international society. While China has a government-centered public diplomacy system, unlike that of the West, various actors (governmental, semi-governmental, and non-governmental actors) systematically engage in China’s public diplomacy through diverse instruments such as foreign aid, media, institutions for exchanging culture, and language training to the populations of foreign countries.

The Chinese government deploys its public diplomacy in African countries based on smart power, which combines soft power (culture) and hard power (China model and economic power), as most of China’s public diplomacy is linked to aid projects, grants, and low-interest loans for building closer economic relations with African countries. China’s public diplomacy seeks to build a positive image of China that focuses on a mutual sense of solidarity to elicit connectedness and shared identity between China and partner countries, mutual development, and harmonious coexistence through diverse public diplomacy activities. Public diplomacy fills the gap between China and Africa in asymmetrical economic relations that give rise to issues of distrust and discontent towards China – such as the exploitation of African wealth, and accusations of neocolonialism. By conducting fieldwork in Nigeria and South Africa, the research confirms that China’s public diplomacy is integral to its foreign policy that focuses on China’s economic development and securing its position on the global stage through African partnerships, bilateral and multilateral (FOCAC). It also discovered that Chinese public diplomacy not only promotes an amicable and friendly environment that promotes deepen relations for economic objectives, but also boosts China’s claim to be a global great power in the new era, as President Xi Jinping has ordered.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Government and International Affairs, School of
Thesis Date:2018
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:06 Mar 2018 16:16

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