Photo: Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images

In the past decade much has been written on China’s increasing importance and growing influence in Africa. So far most of the research has focused on different dimensions of China’s economic engagement such as trade, investments and development finance, oil and natural resources and infrastructure, but also on Chinese migration. There has been less work on the role of the expanding Chinese “soft power” engagement on the African continent. While some research has been done on political and diplomatic relations we know far less about other dimensions of Chinese “soft power”.   

This is the focus of the present 3-year research project on The Voice of China in Africa. It seeks to analyse the interaction between China and Africa in areas such as communication industries, media, and culture.

The aims of the project are to:

  1. Contextualise China''s soft power strategy in Africa;
  2. Investigate How Chinese telecommunication companies shape Africa’s future in communication: digital broadcasting, Internet provision and mobile Internet markets;
  3. Analyse the role of cultural and journalistic promoters;
  4. Assess China’s nation branding project in Africa, which can take the forms of public diplomacy, political value-sharing programmes and economic aid particularly in areas that appeal to broad layers of the population – health, education, sports facilities;
  5. Evaluate how African societies perceive the manifestations of China’s presence on the continent as reflected in African media
  6. Establish how Chinese media perceive the engagement in Africa. 

The main part of the research will concentrate on the situation in Uganda, Mozambique and Angola.

The Voice of China in Africa is a collaborative research project between The Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI) in Bergen, Norway, and the Department of Media and Communication (IMK) University of Oslo, Norway; the Institute of Journalism and  Communication at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS); Instituto de Estudos Sociais e Economicos (IESE), Maputo, Mozambique; the Department of Journalism and Communication and the Department of Political Science and Public Administration, Makerere University, Uganda.

This project website provides a presentation of the participating institutions and project staff; a list of all publications from the project and related publications from the participating institutions; a list of literature, resources and weblinks related to Chinese soft power and media; and a list of forthcoming workshops and project events.

The project is funded by the Research Council of Norway. It was launched in March 2013 and the current phase will run for three years.