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Chinese "soft power" in Africa: honoring tradition and expanding engagement / Китайская "мягкая сила" в Африке: соблюдение и развитие традиции
Ключевые слова: мягкая сила, человеческие ресурсы, образование, обмен трудовыми ресурсами, подготовка специалистов, научные исследования, сотрудничество в здравоохранении, сотрудничество, Африка, Китай
Дата направления в редакцию: 29-04-2017
Дата публикации: 11-07-2017
Abstract. The object of this paper is Chinese policy in Africa. The subject of research is ‘soft power’ as a tool of this policy. Chinese researchers use a broad interpretation of this concept - they consider that the main source of 'soft power' of China should be viewed in the context of the Chinese model of development - the foreign policy of China, its national institutions and its international practices in all fields. Everything, excluding military and violent actions, is viewed by them as ‘soft power’: economic assistance, debt relief, cultural and scientific cooperation, etc. This article analyzes the implementation of this concept in Chinese African policy in the areas of education, health, cultural and scientific relations. The method of comparative political analysis and the implementation of new historical sources (primarily, documents of international organizations) allowed the authors to identify the role of 'soft power' instruments in the formation of African elites that are interested in "South-South" format of cooperation. The substantive content of the Chinese ‘soft power’ concept has not received enough attention, and the authors reach a conclusion that Beijing uses actively the means of ‘soft power’ to create the positive image of China in Africa as a friendly country, ready to provide assistance and support to Africans. ‘Soft power’ is a significant instrument for implementation of China’s foreign policy objectives in Africa.
Keywords: scientific research, training professionals, people-to-people exchange, education, human resources, soft power, healthcare cooperation, cooperation, Africa, China
The mutual interest in African-Chinese cooperation is growing. Since 2009 China has emerged as Africa’s largest trading partner providing demand for the continent’s energy and minerals. African countries that are more resource rich attract more Chinese investment. Chinese direct investment in and lending to African countries has grown rapidly as well. This Chinese engagement in Africa has no doubt led to faster growth and poverty reduction on the continent. World Investment report 2015 of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) finds that the flow of Chinese FDI to Africa during 2013-2014 was 4.4 % of the total to the continent. The European Union countries, led by France and the United Kingdom, are the overwhelmingly largest investors in Africa.
China is not a newcomer in Africa, but its engagement has expanded dramatically in the past 15 years, most notably since China went from a net energy exporter to a net importer in the mid-1990s. Its expansion in Africa connected most directly to the requirements of China’s rapidly growing economy, especially in energy resources, minerals, and other commodities. This expansion accompanied by active diplomatic efforts to build friendly partnerships with African governments, to gain support in international forums for China’s ambitions and worldview, and, in the long-term, to create markets for Chinese goods and services. The principal source of China’s ‘soft power’ in Africa is the strength of its economy and its economic engagement. China expanding trade and investment with the continent and the proliferation of Chinese-led infrastructure projects reflect a fundamentally more optimistic view to Africa’s future than Western engagement, which remains driven primarily by humanitarian programs and, to an increasing extent, security interests. Many Africans see China’s economic engagement in their countries as more pragmatic and in line with African priorities for the continent, and that gives China an important stake in seeing the continent take off economically. Beyond the “sticky” power of actual trade and investment, the cachet of China as a rising global superpower is profoundly appealing and drives a desire to tie African economies more closely to China’s ascension to global economic preeminence. China’s respect-for-sovereignty rhetoric still resonates for many Africans. China’s often expressed respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity and its policy of noninterference resonate for obvious reasons with many African leaders.
Traditionalism at the Chinese ‘soft power’
The founder of the concept of ‘soft power’ Joseph Nye considers that after the Cold War new “non-violent” tools of foreign policy were established in the international relations, the meaning of which to make other countries “to want what you want”, without forcing, but benefit by attraction and persuasion rather than coercion or payment [1, p.160]. According to Nye, the attraction mostly by culture and ideology is the basis of the ‘soft power’ concept. However, the researcher said that “soft” and “hard” forces are the two sides of the same coin, since both used to achieve certain goals.
Chinese scientists have moved beyond from cultural and ideological framework interpreting the concept of ‘soft power’. They said that the main source of China’s ‘soft power’ must be seen in the context of current Chinese development model, its foreign policy and institutions, the activity that has different aspects, including cultural diplomacy, multilateral diplomacy, assistance programs. All things, excluding military and violent actions, are treated by Chinese scientists as a component of ‘soft power’: economic assistance, debt relief, enhanced market access, cultural and scientific cooperation, etc. These tools are widely used by China in its African policy recently.
Nobody has been more skeptical about Chinese ‘soft power’ than Joseph Nye. In particular, he has criticized Beijing’s efforts to acquire ‘soft power’ through centralized schemes, like the spread of Confucius Institutes or the establishment of the China Public Diplomacy Association. Despite “spending billions dollars to increase its soft power … China has had a limited return on its investment”, Nye argued. This is because ‘soft power’ mainly accrues when civil society actors – whom the Chinese government tends to squash – make or do things with global appeal, according to Nye, not through top-down schemes which foreigners are likely to interpret as propaganda .
The substantive contentof the Chinese ‘soft power’ concept have not received enough attention. According tosinocentrism (中国中心主义), which refers to the historical ideology that China is the cultural center of the world, China identified itself as a Celestial Empire or Middle Kingdom, determining “all under heaven” as a property of the emperor. In pre-modern times, it often took the form of viewing China as the most advanced civilization in the world, and external ethnic groups or foreign nations as being uncivilized to various degrees, a distinction known in Chinese as the Hua-Yi (Chinese-barbarians) distinction. Many scientists insist on the traditionalism of the Chinese ‘soft power’ tools connecting it with “bringing civilization to the barbarians” culture, explaining that ‘soft power’ has been used in China since ancient times by the emperors. The Middle Kingdom has always used ‘soft’ tools to achieve their goals. Thus, the Chinese classic treatise “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu outlines 36 military stratagems, describes the techniques and tricks that allow to reach the desired goals on the international arena without using of force.
Even if ‘soft power’ is a traditional phenomenon to China, it has transformed with the realization of China’s “Zou Chu Qu” (走出去) or ‘Going Global’ policy, which is driving its overseas expansion. Classic cultural diplomacy didn’t pursue economic objectives, however it satisfied the political ambitions of the Middle Kingdom. Modern transformed Chinese “soft policy” mainly pursues economic goals, as well as cultural diplomacy and political ambitions.
Conceptualization of ‘soft power’ began in China with its economic growth during Hu Jintao’s presidency in 2002-2012 years. At this times Beijing’s foreign policy focused on “harmonic world”, supporting of the peaceful declarations, the condemnation of a unipolar world and ‘hard power’ politics. “The CPC Central Committee Decision on some important issues of deepening reform of cultural system, stimulation of the great development and prosperity of socialist culture” adoptedat the Sixth Plenary Session of the 17th CPC Central Committee. The ‘soft power’ topic was included into the section dedicated to the development of culture at Hu Jintao’s report at the XVII Congress of the CPC .
Today, China’s ‘soft power’ aims “to increase understanding of the basic national specific features, as well as Chinese values, way of development, domestic and foreign policy by the international community”. Becoming a new global economic power, Beijing intends to develop public diplomacy institutions that perform the following tasks:
• pursue a multilateral policy in order to ensure global security, prevention of deterioration of the international situation; strengthening the global political and economic stability;
• strengthen the “voice of China” in the international arena, through creating of the global broadcasting media and using innovative methods of foreign propaganda, which will affect the world public opinion;
• enhance influence of the Chinese culture to the outside world; to carry out various cultural actions designed to more fully represent the positive characteristics of Chinese culture, with a focus both on modern achievements of China, and on worthy historical past of the Middle Kingdom;
• cooperate in providing assistance in the economic, social, health care and humanitarian aid.
Thus, China’s foreign policy connected directly to the principle of “peace and co-development”. Besides the traditional attitude toward ‘soft power’ inside China, selective focus is also the main difference from the referred Western ideology. China has no any universal model or popular idea, which would attract the masses. Rejecting the idea of communist internationalism in 1978, and with the imposing of capitalist methods in economic policy, modern China neither wants to promote socialist system, nor its own model of development. Beijing deliberately relies on the culture, especially Chinese language, and financial investments. These two elements could recognized as complementary, taking into account the global Chinese business proliferation. The Chinese migration is growing with the release of the Chinese companies abroad, where Hans convey the Chinese language and culture.
China is making efforts to improve its image in the world. In 2013, the Chairman of the CCP, Xi Jinping said that the improvement of the national cultural ‘soft power’ is associated with the implementation of the “Two hundred years target” of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese dream (i.e. the Chinese nation) . Strengthening the foundation of the national cultural ‘soft power’ and promoting the values of modern China efforts are designed to demonstrate the uniqueness and attractiveness of the Chinese culture, that will help to improve China’s international status.Despite the increased interest to the topic, China has yet to develop a comprehensive national strategy of ‘soft power’. While Chinese ‘soft power’ remains a counter reaction on “China threat” theory, advocating for improving China’s image abroad .
The possibility of developing a comprehensive ‘soft power’ strategy depends on whether China as a global power would be involved in the international affairs, including conflict situations, across purposes. To date, Beijing suspended from supporting any action that could lead to new wars, but the status of a global power could force it to act otherwise. It means that from the unformed Chinese ‘soft power’ strategy and response actions China is gradually moving to the cultural and preventive diplomacy methods. It follow again to “crossing the river by feeling the stones” practice, due not only to its emerging global status, but also to the nature of Chinese diplomacy and country’s current macro-economic requirements.
Chinese scientists have interpreted ‘soft power’ concept, bringing their own cultural and ideological framework. They say that the main source of China’s ‘soft power’ ought to be seen in China’s development model, its foreign policy and institutions whose activities include cultural diplomacy, multilateral diplomacy, aid programs [6, pp. 223-232].
All except military, violent actions treated by Chinese scientists as a part of ‘soft power’: economic assistance, debt relief, ‘Going Global’ policy, cultural and scientific cooperation, and so on. These tools are widely used in China’s foreign policy in recent years, particularly in its African policy. However, in this article we analyze the implementation of this concept in the Chinese African policy in the sphere of education, health, cultural and scientific relations.
China-Africa educational and scientific cooperation
China attaches great importance to cooperation with Africa in the educational field. Whereas in the past the two sides simply exchanged students, however today this cooperation has a complex, multi-level nature. In the early 1950-ies China took 10-15 African students; in 2000s the African countries received more than 1500 scholarships to study at the Chinese universitiesannually . China’s higher education institutions trained 1793 African students in 2003, which represented 1/3 of foreign students in the country [8, Pp. 219-224.]. At the meeting of the Beijing Forum of China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in 2006, President Hu Jintao announced the government’s decision to invite 4000 African students to the Chinese universities annually. Three years later at the FOCAC summit in Sharm el-Sheikh in 2009, the number of students and scholarships increased to 5500 . In the 2010-2011 academic year the Chinese government allocated 5710 scholarships to African students . During 2009 –-2012 Africans granted 18.743 scholarships, including 6,717 in 2012  In 2012, 20 thousand Africans received Chinese scholarships and in 2016-2018 years grants number will reach 30 thousand.
Twenty-two Chinese universities have regional representations in African countries. China has set up laboratories to assist countries to explore biology, microbiology, physics, analytical chemistry, agriculture. Among them, microbiological laboratory at the University of Yaounde (Cameroon), Biotechnology Laboratory at the University of Nairobi (Kenya), the laboratory of Food technology in the Ivory Coast, etc. Over 10 years, Beijing is implementing a project to create a network of Confucius Institutes, the first of which opened in Seoul in 2004, becoming a subordinate body of the State Chancellery for the dissemination of the Chinese language in the world “Hanban”. At the end of 2010, 357 Confucius Institutes and 476 Confucius classes opened in 104 countries and regions, 100 million people studying Chinese as a Foreign Language . Popularization of Confucianism formed the basis for the creation of such institutions abroad. According to the Chinese, ‘great teacher’s’ philosophy left a strong impact not only in Chinese culture, but also in other East Asian countries.
The Confucius Institutes creating practice based on Beijing’s funding is an important means of “struggle over winning hearts and minds” of Africans. Chinese history, culture and language are studies at the Confucius Institutes. The first Institute in Africa opened on December 19, 2005 inNairobi (Kenya). Thus, organized in late 2008 by the General Directorate of Confucius Institutes in Beijing Conference was attended by 21 representatives of the Confucius Institute from 14 African countries. In 2013, 31 Confucius Institutes acted in 22 African countries, in 2015 – already 47 institutions. The ResearchCenter of the Chinese language in the University of Yaounde (Cameroon) and the Chinese language center at the University of Stellenbosch (South Africa) are acting. Students are studying Chinese at the University of Dar es-Salaam (Tanzania). The Chinese government deployed 210 Chinese language teachers to 20 African countries. China is also preparing African teachers of the Chinese language, through the scholarships programs. The process of studying the Chinese language by Africans is progressing well. Explaining the reasons for this phenomenon, Lui Mukaro, Lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe said that people who have mastered the Chinese language plus to English in demand in the labor market: students and graduates are getting a good job at the Chinese companies in the country, particularly in the construction field. “If you look how the Chinese are spreading their influence in the world, you will realize that it is better to be able to speak their language”, he said .
From 2009 to 2012, with the help of the Chinese government 28 schools were built in Africa, and 42 schools have got equipment, 6 computer classes were created in 26 countries . Such assistance provided not only at the governmental level. Thus, in December 2011, Chinese entrepreneurs have launched “Hope” project in Africa for building of thousands primary schools in five African countries: the first group began to build school in Tanzania, the second – in Namibia, and the third – in other African countries .
Training of skilled professionals for Africa is also one of the targets of Chinese ‘soft power’; it takes an important place in the China-Africa cooperation program. This task assigned to the Fund for human resources development, which created under the auspices of ministries of foreign affairs, commerce, education, science and technology, agriculture, health: each of them is responsible for the training of African personnel in its competence sphere. In 2009, the Vocational and TechnicalCollege opened in Ethiopia – the biggest school built with Chinese participation abroad. The college mission is training in seven areas: mechanical, electrical, electronics, auto mechanics, computers, technology, textile, clothing production. Along with access to engineering students can pass the two-year training under the guidance of Chinese language teachers from China . The Chinese telecommunication company “Huawei Technology” has opened in Africa five training centers: in Egypt, Tunisia, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa, where specialists for the company are training. In total, in 2011 China prepared for Africa more than 30 thousands specialists in various fields . On the Fifth FOCACMinisterial Conference in Beijing in July 2012 stated that China has trained about 40 thousands African professionals in various fields. In 2012-2015 China has implemented the “African Talents” program, providing 30 thousands positions for training specialists. The program successfully completed and the number of trained professionals reached 30173 person .
Education of African students in the Chinese universities, training specialists for various sectors of the economy based on the specially developed training programs, both in China and in the African continent designed to create in Africa a layer of people interested in cooperation with China. Beijing hopes to attract African young people, especially those who are willing to study in the Western countries. The formation of the non-oriented to the West, but interested in cooperation with China, African political and business elites is a long-term goal of Chinese policy.
By investing more in research and development in China, Chinese scientific collaboration with outside world also intensified. China-Africa scientific cooperation sharply increased in the past decade. There is the ongoing program of scientists’ exchange, joint research projects. At the 4th FOCAC Summit in Sharm el-Sheikh in 2009, China and 49 African countries have adopted a three-year plan for a “strategic partnership in science, technology and higher education”, according to which Chinese universities and colleges established bilateral co-operation with the same number of universities and colleges in Africa. China made the pledge to prepare three thousands doctors, nurses and members of the administrative staff for the African countries, as well as to implement 100 joint research projects. China also invited 100 graduate students to conduct research provided appropriate instruments and equipment for those researchers, who would return to Africa within three years. 20+20 Plan of cooperation between 20 pairs of leading Chinese and African institutions has successfully implemented during 2009-2012 years. By the end of 2012, 115 joint researches conducted; 66 African researchers have received a doctoral degree in China; 24 researchers, who returned to Africa, got the necessary equipment. China funded 634 African case studies projects, the amount of scientific exchanges reached 600 during 2010 to 2012 .
China-Africa Think Tanks Forum (CATTF) created a mechanism of “brain” cooperation and of ideas exchange. Expected, that the Forum will become an influential international academic platform for Chinese and African researchers discussion on the theory and practice of bilateral relationship.
African health care is in the focus of Beijing’s attention.
China’s Ministry of Health funds the visits exchange at the ministerial level. The agreements on sending the Chinese medical experts to Africa, providing African countries with medicines, equipment and materials concluded regularly. Chinese enterprises promote Africa in the production of medicines, improving information systems in health care. The creation of Ministerial Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in public health within the FOCAC was an important decision. The China-Africa program of cooperation in the health care sector includes the construction of hospitals in the countries of the continent, as well as training of medical personnel.
China-Africa health care celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in 2013. The first Chinese medical team arrived in Algeria in March 1963, thus 37 teams composed of 1100 people have acted in Africa at the end of 2005 . Chinese doctors worked in remote areas with severe climatic conditions, often deprived of transport and communications. From 1963 to 2006 they have assisted in collaboration with African colleagues, 240 million patients using in their practices not only modern, but also the traditional Chinese medicine. From 1960-s China provided the assistance for Africa in the fight against malaria. Chinese medical teams helped local hospitals in Tanzania, Mali, Mauritania and other countries of the continent to diagnose and treat malaria, prevent the disease. China assisted to create anti-malaria center in Tanzania. In 1987, the Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine sent to Tanzania 7 groups of 34 people for the implementation of a pilot program of HIV treatment by the methods of traditional Chinese medicine. Experience has shown the effectiveness of this method in the treatment of HIV infection .
Upon successful completion of the organized by the Ministry of Health of China program in 2002, 30 students from 17 African countries have acquired knowledge and skills in treatment and prevention of malaria and tropical diseases. In that year the Ministry of Health and the State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Pharmacy organized the Sino-African Forum on Traditional Medicine and Pharmacy, with representatives of 21 African countries . In 2008, then Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said, that China would prepare one thousand doctors, nurses and managers of the healthcare sector for the African countries, 30 countries would receive new hospitals from China . In 2009, at the FOCAC ministerial conference in Egypt Chinese Premier announced a new promise: to provide medical equipment and medicines for 30 malaria hospitals, to build 30 new antimalarial centers in Africa and train 3,000 doctors and nurses to work in these hospitals and centers . China has organized short-term training courses on combating malaria, according to traditional Chinese medicine, family planning, and other spheres. Support for family planning realized in Zimbabwe, Mali, and Nigeria. China has financed the construction of the cardiology center in Tanzania; before Tanzania citizens had to travel to South Africa or India. China also built the ReproductiveHealthCenter in Uganda. As Chinese Professor Li Anshan wrote in 2011, during 46 years more than 20 thousands Chinese medical professionals have treated 240 patients abroad, mainly in Africa [22, p.13]. China has provided emergency assistance to Africa. Thus, Beijing make a commitment to support combating the cholera epidemic in Guinea-Bissau, Comoros, Uganda in 1998. China also supplied refugees from the Horn of Africa, Sudan and other countries with medical care and medicines. Chinese medical experts implemented “Way to the light” program in Africa, doing surgery on cataracts and other eye diseases, they also vaccinate African people against malaria.
Chinese doctors also have an important presence in the Malian health system. However, in contrast to medical experts from other countries, many of them learn Bambara language; this allows them to communicate with patients and local counterparts. The traditional Chinese medicine specialists are also working in Africa. The indigenous Chinese healing become popular within the urban middle class in South Africa.
Since 1973, China has dispatched 20 medical teams to Ethiopia consisting of 300 doctors and nurses serving more than 2 million patients, spent 74165 surgical operations and saved 42,812 lives. At the celebrations of the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Ethiopia, the Chinese ambassador Yifan La paid tribute to the head of the first Chinese medical group Genyanu Mei. The Ethiopian government has put a monument on his grave, and a local family takes care of the grave in gratitude and respect to the memory of Mei and other Chinese healthcare professionals. “The friendship between China and Ethiopia established by the efforts and sacrifices of such people, as Mei”, the Chinese ambassador said .
According to the Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi, health care is one of the major areas of China’s investments and professional aid. China one of the first came to the assistance to Africa during the epidemic of Ebola . China has extended humanitarian assistance amounting to $50 000 provided by the Chinese Red Cross to assist the affected by Ebola Guinea in March 2014, Minister of International Cooperation of Guinea Qutub Sanoh said. To combat the epidemic, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia have received financial support, amounting $151600 in August 2014; the countries also received medicines worth $4.55 million, and medical staff sent by China . In September 2014, China sent to these countries medicines and food products on 32.54 million . China allocated $85 million for the LiberianCenter for the treatment Ebola in October 2014. In addition, $1 million aid and equipment provided by China to the Chinese-Guinean friendship hospital, which has lost six doctors who treated patients from Ebola in December 2014. Due to the deteriorating food situation in Guinea, this country has got food aid by $ 2 million .
In addition to financial aid China has sent its experts to Africa. A team of 59 people from the ChinaCenter for Disease Control and Prevention sent to work in September 2014 at the Hospital of friendship at Freetown, Sierra Leone. These experts added to the 115 health professionals already sent by China to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. In total, China has spent on medicines, food and other assistance in the fight against Ebola $120 million. 1200 experts sent to the front line of the fight against this dangerous disease . Chinese experts educated 1600 local health workersin Africa .
At the International Conference in Malabo (Equatorial Guinea) devoted to fight against Ebola in July 2015 Jing Xiaotao the Vice-Chairman of the State Committee for Health and Family Planning of China said that China would provide assistance in socio-economic recovery in the aftermath of Ebola epidemic. “China is going to take part in the creation of African system for the prevention and control of epidemics, in the construction of infrastructure facilities for medical purposes and to assist African countries in building and improving the public health system, increasing resilience to emergency epidemic situation,”– he said .
The Action Plan (2016-2018), adopted in Johannesburg at the FOCAC summit in December 2015 China’s assistance for Africa in modernization of the health system, in the fight against the spread of malaria and other dangerous diseases, reducing child and maternal mortality, cooperation between China and African hospitals (20 per side), training doctors, nurses, paramedical staff, sending medical experts and surgeons. Beijing has committed to help the building Center for decease Control of the African Union (AU), regional medical research centers, and laboratories, provide them with diagnostic equipment, as well as facilitate the implementation of AU initiatives in the health care sector .
Chinese doctors receive gratitude from the African countries governments. Reported, that about 600 Chinese medical professionals have received awards from African countries’ governmentsin 2007 . The African side expressed its deep gratitude to China for its prompt response to the crisis caused by the spread of Ebola, and measures for prevention the spread of this dangerous disease. The ceremony of awarding persons and groups for the outstanding work in the fight against the epidemic of Ebola held both in China and in Africa on November 25, 2015. 280 people and 60 groups awarded .
255 international research projects implemented from 2000 to 2012 in the field of health and sanitation were analyzed in 2014, this allowed to compare Chinese projects with the traditional donor projects, and the to come to conclusion that China is one of the biggest donors among the top 10 donors in Africa health .
Chinese broadcasting in Africa
Although the influence of the western media remains in force in Africa, China doing a lot for its voice hearing. Xinhua News Agency opened the first office in Ghana in 1957, Offices in Nairobi (Kenya) in 1986, and now China has more than 20 offices in Africa. In 2008, the Xinhua News Agency has established the Sino-African News Agency. The World Media Forum attended by representatives of African media held in 2009. In 2011, Xinhua established a “Safari.com” company and in partnership with the Kenyan mobile operator began to supply news for mobile phones. In cooperation with Xinhua “Safari.com” launched the first mobile news service in sub-Saharan Africa in December 2012.
In January 2012, China Central Television (CCTV), one of the most influential media in China, represented in many countries, elected Kenyan capital Nairobi as their broadcasting place in Africa. Today CCTV introduced in Africa by CCTV Africa (English edition), China Radio International, China Daily and Xinhua News Agency. Comparatively to the Western publications often criticizing African countries’ policy, Chinese are practicing “constructive journalism”. CCTV has become the first foreign media, which focuses on Africa, its news and problems supplied through such programs as “Africa Live”, “Talk Africa”, and “Faces of Africa”. At least 10 hours a week devoted to African topics. The most important that Chinese broadcasting focuses on African successes, giving the optimistic assessment of the situation on the continent. “We tell the Africans history in a positive manner to the African people”, – CCTV editor said . In December 2012, the China’s major English-language newspaper “China Daily” began producing a weekly topical application to Africa – “African Weekly”, which is published in the Nairobi by National media group “Daily Nation”, the largest media company of the East and the Central Africa .
Besides Chinese state media companies, such as CCTV Africa, China Daily, Africa Weekly, Beijing Review, Xinhua News Agency, China Radio International, there are also private companies, such as the Chinese TV operator “Star Times”.
Chinese enterprises invest in the sphere of telecommunications and media infrastructure, and African investors looking for business opportunities in the Chinese media market. Thus, the South African MIN group has become the second largest shareholder of Beijing Media Corporation Limited, as well as the concern along with a newspaper of Anhui Province of China set up a joint company Xin An Media Group. China Radio International broadcasts from Kenya in Swahili in Chinese and English. It is remarkable that translated into Swahili Chinese opera is very popular in East Africa. It should be noted that Chinese information breakthrough in Africa takes place against the backdrop of disengagement of the Western news agencies at the continent.
The researcher from the South African Institute of International Affairs David Mekenzie called the efforts of the Chinese government to expand the influence of its media in Africa as a “part of a larger strategy of ‘soft power’”, aimed at creating a positive image of Beijing in areas of its economic and political activity . The main aim is to reduce the fear about China’s military power existing abroad and to prevent the developing a negative image of the country.
Cultural ties between China and Africa
China has pushed strongly to broaden cultural exchanges with Africa as well. China has bilateral agreements on cooperation in culture with most of them, renewing treaties every two years. Chinese artists, athletes coming to Africa, exchange of cultural delegations carried out in accordance with the agreements. Classic and modern Chinese books and movies given to African countries as gifts. Chinese photo exhibitions, pottery exhibitions and sales of paintings by Chinese artists organized at the continent. The examples are the exhibition of Chinese painting and sculpture in Egypt, the exhibitions of Chinese painting in Zimbabwe and Tunisia, the exhibitions of Chinese art in Benin and Chinese contemporary art in South Africa. The first Chinese contemporary painting exhibition held at the ChineseCulturalCenter in Mauritius in July 2013. Acquainting with the African art events held in China. At the same times such African countries as Morocco, Mauritius, and Cape Verde introduced their art in China. About hundred exchanges between Chinese and African artistic groups carried out. Famous Chinese troupes have visited Africa, such as Eastern Troupe of Song and Dance, Chinese Acrobatic Group, Wuhan Acrobatic Troupe, Song and Dance Ensemble of Daolyan and Xinjiang. Chinese artists visited African countries to explore the local culture and arts. The cultural groups from the Republic of Congo, Egypt, Mali, Namibia, South Africa, Mauritius and other countries visited China .
The organization of days, weeks and months of Chinese culture in Africa and African culture in China contributes to mutual acquaintance with the cultural achievements. The book exhibitions and film festivals linked to these events. Chinese civilization was presented with the Cultural Week in Morocco, Algerian cinema Week, Cultural Week in Tunisia, Week of Chinese movies, Month of Chinese art, the fair of Chinese books.
Beijing created Sino-African Friendship Association. The Association operates in a number of African countries. Beijing hosted the first Chinese and African Youth Festival in 2004. It implemented “African Culture in Focus”, “People’s Forum”, “the Forum of Young Leaders”, cultural exchange programs in 2009-2012 .
The first Sino-African cultural industrial park established in China in 2012. It includes African Cultural Center, African business center, the platform for performances of artistic groups, art exhibitions, conference center, Museum of China-Africa Friendship, African theatre, art museum, and even the street of African cuisine. An exhibition of African totem art was the first event held at the Sino-African cultural industrial park in July 2012 .
On July 19, 2013 the Chinese and African cultural representatives’ workshop held in Beijing. It attended by 120 delegates from 26 African countries and China, discussing the China-Africa cultural cooperation development possibilities. The Chinese Ministry of Culture held an “African culture in a focus: modeling cultural ties between Africa and China” symposium with the participation of 50 African countries culture ministers in August 2013 .
Chinese and African non-governmental organizations (NGO) cooperation became widespread. China NGO Network for International Exchange (CNIE) in conjunction with the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC) and South African non-governmental organizations provided a NGO dialogue in Cape Town in 2010. The first China-Africa People’s Forum held in Nairobi in August 2011. It attended by 200 civil society representatives from China and African countries. The participants adopted the Nairobi Declaration, which stated that the forum is an important platform for NGOs exchanges .
The Forum for Economic and Trade Co-operation between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries (Macao), also known as Forum Macao, an important Chinese ‘soft power’ tool in Africa, launched in October 2003. The initiative to create the Forum for development of relations of Portugal with Macao-based language community belongs to the last governor of Macao, General Rocha Vieira. This initiative hailed by Beijing as an opportunity to use the former Portuguese colony incorporated to the PRC in 1999, to strengthen ties with Portuguese-speaking countries. It resulted by China’s Central Government in co-ordination with seven Portuguese-speaking Countries — namely Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal and East Timor —, and with the collaboration of the Government of the Macao Special Administrative Region (Macao SAR). Forum Macao is a multilateral co-operation mechanism aimed at consolidating economic and trade exchanges between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries. It pursues its mission by using Macao as a connecting platform to China and Portuguese-speaking Countries. Up to date four of Forum Macao Ministerial Conferences held in Macao. They took place in October 2003; September 2006; November 2010 and November 2013. During them participants approved Strategic Plans for Economic Co-operation. Such plans have identified a number of areas of co-operation — including intergovernmental co-operation — namely, trade; investment and entrepreneurship; agriculture, fisheries and livestock; natural resources; the environment; education; human resources; tourism; transport and communication; finance; culture; radio, cinema and television; health; and sports. Portuguese-speaking countries in Africa, except for preserving relations with Taiwan Sao Tome and Principe, sent delegates to attend meetings of the Forum. Portuguese language courses, seminars are organized. Forum publishes periodicals Makaohab (Macaohub) Magazine and Macau (Macao Magazine), containing information on the Portuguese-speaking countries and China. The objectives of the Forum are not limited to the development of cultural cooperation. Every two years the Forum invites the Ministers of Commerce to the meeting, where they discuss problems of economy and trade. Often, after the ministers business delegations, conducting separate meetings, arrive.
How do Africans view China’s presence on the continent?
Africans generally view China’s policy as a positive factor. There is no single African perspective on China, but survey data indicate that in a sampling of African countries, the number of people who view China’s influence on Africa as positive, is very close to—and in some cases surpasses—those viewing the United States influence as positive. The latest Afrobarometer survey reports that on average, 63% of Africans surveyed believe China to be a “somewhat” or “very positive” influence in their countries while “only 15% see it as somewhat very negative”. As Afrobarometer summarized: Findings from Afrobarometer’s 2014/2015 surveys in 36 African countries, which included a special series of questions on China, suggest that the people hold generally favorable views of economic assistance activities by China. Africans rank the United States and China number 1 and 2, respectively, as development models for their own countries. Remarkably, in three of five African regions, China either matches or surpasses the United States in popularity as a development model. In terms of their current influence, the two countries outpaced only by Africa’s former colonial powers.
Public perceptions not only confirm China’s important economic and political role in Africa but also generally portray its influence as mutually beneficial. China’s ‘soft power’, infrastructure development and business investments promote for growing of China’s positive image in Africa. While media reports may describe this as something new, in fact it is quite close to previous public opinion surveys on this issue .
Thus, Beijing is actively using the means of ‘soft power’ to create the positive image of China in Africa, as a friendly country, ready to provide assistance and support to Africans and look forward to reciprocal support. “Soft power’ is certainly a significant instrument for China’s implementation of its foreign policy objectives in Africa.China’s public diplomacy emphasizes the notion of solidarity and South-South cooperation. Chinese officials are quick to point out that as far back as the fifteenth century when Admiral Zhen He made his famous voyage to the East African coast, China has never sought to subjugate, colonize, or enslave. They point to China’s record of support for African liberation movements and the common interest of the developing world in creating a just, equitable global economy. China presents itself as a champion of developing-country interests in international forums, and clearly expects that sense of solidarity will be reciprocal.
It is clear that China’s political rhetoric directed toward Africa is a function of the country’s process of internationalization and consequent domestic debates concerning China’s rise in the international community. Furthermore, China’s position regarding development assistance funded by country’s own experience. Many aspects of this experience are appealing to African elites. China advocates “gradualism”, rather than “shock therapy’ administered by the West.
However, as noted above, the audience of China’s public diplomacy is not restricted to Africans, be they elites or the masses, but it also intended for the international community at large, in order to project a positive image more broadly. Indeed, as has been seen, Africa is actually viewed as a test case scenario where Chinese diplomats can perfect the art of ‘soft power’, increasingly recognized as being important to cultivate the kind of stature China wishes to attain on the global stage.