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Beijing’s Top Diplomat For Africa Reflects on Why It’s So Difficult for China to Change the Negative Media Narrative

Wu Peng, director-general of the Department of African Affairs at the Chinese Foreign Ministry addressed the World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, Zhejiang. Image via Xinhua.

China needs to overcome the language barrier and do a better job of its story in Africa, said Beijing’s top diplomat for the continent in a keynote address last week at the World Internet Conference in the Zhejiang city of Wuzhen. “One of our biggest difficulties in international communication is language,” he told attendees at the conference. “Because we now live in the age of social media, if China can’t tell stories in other peoples’ languages then they’ll just reach a smaller audience.”

Wu, like other Chinese stakeholders, took particular exception to the U.S.-led accusation that Beijing is ensnaring African countries with unsustainable amounts of debt: “It’s not like we’re forcing anyone in Africa to build our infrastructure and bridges as if holding a gun to his head, saying give us this project. Given our exceptional know-how, it’s only natural [that they’d pick China].”

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