Association pour l’anthropologie du changement social et du développement
Association for the anthropology of social change and development

Chinese media in Africa, 1955-1999: an overview of an enduring asymmetric relationship

Auteur(s) : Madrid-Morales Dani ;

Shortly after the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, the Chinese Communist Party began the revamping of its external propaganda program, which had begun in the early 1940s. Half a decade later, African countries became a primary target of Chinese propagandists, who were caught up in a competition with both the Soviet Union and the United States for increased discursive power. Copies of the Peking Review became available, first sporadically, and then regularly, in bookshops from Marrakesh to Dar Es Salaam as early as 1952. The Xinhua news agency opened its first foreign bureau in the continent in Cairo in 1956, and Radio Peking began regular broadcasts in Swahili and Hausa in 1961 to reach audiences in East and West Africa, respectively. Although the history of Sino-African relations has been extensively scrutinized, only superficial accounts exist about the scope, purpose, reach and intensity of Chinese media engagements with the continent. A deeper understanding of how mediated exchanges between China and Africa evolved is necessary to fully comprehend phenomena in the twenty-first century. Based on published first-person accounts of Chinese correspondents in Africa, and declassified documents from the United States Information Agency (USIA) that have not previously been systematically examined (reports, diplomatic cables, letters and public opinion polls), this paper provides a description of mass mediated activities by the PRC between 1955 and 1999; it offers evidence of the very limited impact of Chinese external propaganda on the general population, and it argues that, beyond the narrative of comradeship, the media primarily served to legitimize an asymmetric relationship between China and most African nations, one which persists today.

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Voir le panel Les médias chinois en Afrique : circulation, production, réception / African uses of Chinese media

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