Prior to the recent crisis in Guangzhou, China’s public diplomacy momentum in Africa looked unstoppable. Dramatic images of planes filled with donations from Alibaba founder Jack Ma were everywhere on state-run media channels, local news outlets, and diplomatic Twitter accounts, and receiving enthusiastic responses from African leaders.
China has spent years to build up a media presence on the continent, with CGTN and Xinhua production facilities in Kenya, and production staff spread across Africa. China had also invested heavily in building up a robust content distribution network by placing content on leading news websites on the continent and providing free access to its Xinhua and People’s Daily newsfeeds. The Chinese even took a 20% stake in one of South Africa’s largest media groups.
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