Author: Gabriël J. Botma.
The on-going global economic crisis taps into widespread fears that the fall of the Western ‘empire’ is imminent. Projections and prophesies position China as the centre of a future world order, and opinions abound about the possible economic, political, social and cultural consequences. That prospect, and the implications of a new wave of (Chinese) colonialism – also through the media – thus need to be considered. This multi-faceted question is addressed from the perspective of global culture. Media theories about cultural imperialism largely deal with the power of the centre vs. the periphery, but how can we deal theoretically with a scenario of (faltering) empire vs. (rising) empire? Popular African responses to China's expansion into Africa display similar divisions to those in academic debates about Western cultural imperialism and globalisation. China will thus have to account for the fact that all its efforts to deploy ‘soft power’ in Africa are still strongly coloured by the experience and legacy of Western colonialism.