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Q&A: The U.S.-China Narrative Battle in Africa Over Anti-Black Discrimination

A protester wearing a facemask holds up his hands during a demonstration over the killing of George Floyd by a policeman outside the Third Police Precinct on May 27, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. KEREM YUCEL / AFP

The ongoing violent unrest in dozens of U.S. cities to protest police brutality against African Americans is now emerging as a key theme in the U.S.-China narrative battle in Africa. China’s state-run media outlets along with its diplomatic social media channels in Africa are publishing a steady stream of videos, photos, and other accounts of the riots accompanied by harsh criticisms of the U.S., particularly related to widespread U.S. support for anti-government protestors in Hong Kong.

Part of this effort is no doubt related to the broader U.S.-China tensions that the African missions are merely amplifying. However, it’s quite likely, and this is admittedly speculative, that China’s showcasing of the riots in the U.S., including the arrest of journalists, attacks by security forces on unarmed civilians and the general disorder that now exists in many U.S. cities, is intended to delegitimize the U.S. in Africa.

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