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Chinese Soft Power in Africa in the COVID-19 Era

2020 has been a tough year for China’s soft power engagement in Africa. A furious backlash to anti-African discrimination in Guangzhou in April, growing public hostility to Chinese debt and, of course, questions about Chinese accountability for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have all presented formidable challenges to Beijing’s reputation management on the continent.

While, there’s no doubt that China’s popularity has taken a hit among large swathes of African civil society, that is not the case among the continent’s governing elites where state-to-state remain as strong and stable as ever.

Paul Nantulya, a research associate at the Africa Strategic Studies Center in Washington, D.C., closely follows Chinese soft power trends in Africa. Paul joins Eric & Cobus to discuss the Chinese soft power strategy in Africa and how, in many ways, it’s fundamentally different than those of U.S. and European governments.

Show Notes:

About Paul Nantulya:

As a research associate at the Africa Center, Paul Nantulya researches and prepares written analysis on contemporary Africa security issues. His areas of expertise include Chinese foreign policy, China/Africa relations, African partnerships with Southeast Asian countries, mediation and peace processes, the Great Lakes region, and East and Southern Africa.

Prior to joining the Africa Center, Mr. Nantulya served as a regional technical advisor on South Sudan for Catholic Relief Services (CRS) from 2009 to 2011, where he supported crisis mitigation for the Government of South Sudan including writing policy analyses for the Ministry of Peace and Comprehensive Peace Agreement Implementation. In this role, he worked closely with South Sudan’s external partners, particularly Japan’s International Cooperation Agency, on conflict prevention.

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