Author: Catie Snow Bailard.
In 2006, Chinese officials revealed an extensive plan to increase the nation’s soft power in Africa through a number of initiatives to increase the presence and relevance of Chinese media in Africa. However, the question remains: Has China been successful in enhancing its soft power via its news media expansion in the African region? Although it is easy to find sweeping proclamations regarding the popularity of Chinese media throughout Africa, there have been limited efforts to systematically measure the effect of these media on African public opinion toward China. This study seeks to fill this void. Using Pew Global Attitudes Project data, I explore correlations between attitudes toward China and the extent of the Chinese media presence across six African nations in 2013. In addition, to better test for a causal effect of the post-2006 expansion, I employ a second analysis in which I compare these relationships in 2007 with these same relationships in 2013. By comparing changes in these relationships over time, this analysis provides tentative empirical support that the sweeping efforts undertaken to expand the reach and relevance of Chinese media in Africa have moved African public opinion in the desired direction.