How Influential Are Chinese Media in Africa? An Audience Analysis in Kenya and South Africa
The increased presence of Chinese media in Africa has been the focus of much debate since the early 2010s. Discussions tend to revolve around issues of production and content, providing little evidence on the way audiences decode media messages aimed at extending China’s “soft power.” This article uses data from seven focus groups with media and communication university students in Kenya and South Africa to explore the efficacy of Chinese-mediated public diplomacy. We show that Chinese media have little impact on students’ information habits, demonstrate that attitudes toward China are predominantly negative, and argue that this stereotyping affects opinions about Chinese media. We also suggest that some students’ favored news values overlap with those associated with Chinese media. This may indicate a potential affinity between the journalistic practice of Chinese media in Africa and that of future Kenyan and South African media professionals, which could increase the chances of China’s media engagements having an impact in the long term.