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China’s Discourse Power in Africa and the Global South

China, like all major governments, uses a variety of tools and methods to influence international public opinion. Some, like CGTN, China Daily, and China Radio International, serve as conventional propaganda that is easy to identify; other tactics are far more subtle yet often very effective in shaping the global conversation about China and its role in the world.

This so-called “discourse power” is now an important field of study. Kenton Thibaut, a China fellow at the Atlantic Council, and Tuvia Gering, also a fellow at the Atlantic Council and a research fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, join us to talk about their latest research on the issue that explores not only how Chinese interests are communicating but also what they’re saying.

Show Notes:

About Kenton Thibaut and Tuvia Gering:

Kenton Thibaut is the resident china fellow of the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab based in Washington, DC.

Prior to joining DFRLab, Thibaut served as an associate at GreenPoint Group, a boutique strategic advisory firm in Washington, DC, where she conducted analysis in Chinese and English on the implications of Chinese policies on client interests vis-à-vis US-China commercial and foreign relations. She possesses professional fluency in Mandarin and extensive in-country China experience, as well as a strong research background supported by various fellowships, including a Fulbright Fellowship, Blakemore Freeman Fellowship, and Boren National Security Fellowship.

Thibaut holds a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in international economics and China studies. She is also a PhD candidate at Georgetown University, where she focuses on China’s role in the global information environment and implications for authoritarian learning and resilience. Thibaut was also recently named as a 2021 security fellow at the Truman National Security Project.

Tuvia Gering is a nonresident fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Global China Hub. He is also a research fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, specializing in Chinese security and foreign policy, and the Tikvah Fund’s Krauthammer fellow based in Jerusalem. Previously, Gering was a research analyst at the Israeli Chinese Media Center and a special lecturer, in Chinese, to guests from the Chinese government hosted by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Gering has published in peer-reviewed journals, with bylines at the Middle East Institute, SinocismSupChinaAsia TimesTablet Magazine, and Israel Defense, as well as other international and Israeli media, and his quotes can be found in major publications.

Gering is the editor and author of Discourse Power on Substack, a newsletter covering leading Chinese perspectives on current affairs, and he holds a BA in East Asian studies from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (summa cum laude) and an MPH in disaster and emergency management from Tel Aviv University (summa cum laude).

Transcript: (please note this transcript is produced by artificial intelligence so it’s not 100% accurate)

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