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China’s Belt and Road Initiative and soft power in Pakistan: an examination of the local English-language press

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The China–Pakistan relationship has reached new heights through the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) worth $62 billion of Chinese investment in Pakistan. Since the commencement of its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Beijing continues to invest more to enhance China’s soft power through a positive image in BRI partner countries including Pakistan. To understand this phenomenon, this study examines the framing of China’s image vis-à-vis CPEC in Pakistan’s English dailies. The data comprise 651 reports of seven newspapers during 2017 in connection to five frames: China’s diplomatic and strategic relations, economic and infrastructural investment, Pak–China long-term relations, cultural exchange and education, and ‘War on Terror.’ The results suggest that Pakistan’s English press promotes China’s goodwill through an overwhelming positive reporting of its culture, diplomatic support, and investment. This paper argues that such high occurrence of positive news reporting of China in Pakistan is linked to China’s soft power.

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The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon request.


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Correspondence to Yadira Ixchel Martínez Pantoja.

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Ittefaq, M., Ahmed, Z.S. & Martínez Pantoja, Y.I. China’s Belt and Road Initiative and soft power in Pakistan: an examination of the local English-language press. Place Brand Public Dipl 19, 1–14 (2023).

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