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Economics Versus Narrative in the China-Africa Relationship

Nigerian Foreign Minister Geofry Onyema meeting with Chinese ambassador Zhou Pingjian at the foreign ministry in Abuja. Photo via @GeoffreyOnyema Twitter. march 4, 2020.

As the COVID-19 crisis drags on, we’re seeing the emergence of two contradictory trends.

On the one hand, the crisis has revealed the relative fragility of public diplomacy ties between China and Africa. While high-level government-to-government diplomacy continues, the Guangzhou crisis seems to have fed into long-term narratives about China among ordinary Africans. It appears to be revealing the limits of the sunny narrative of egalitarianism pushed by official Chinese media in Africa. 

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