Explaining attractiveness: knowledge production and power projection in China’s policy for Africa

  • Lina BenabdallahEmail author
Original Article


How is Chinese foreign policy building a positive image of China in Africa? IR literature on soft power and attractiveness abounds. This study builds on the existing works, especially contributions by Janice Bially Mattern and Ty Solomon, to account for the role of expert knowledge production in attractiveness and image-building. While the existing literature focuses on China’s media cooperation from the perspective of establishing Chinese media outlets in Africa, this article identifies an understudied aspect of China’s strategy in Africa—that of investing in human resource development and professional training programmes for African journalists. The study constructs its analysis based on a series of in-depth interviews and official document analysis. The findings suggest that Chinese-sponsored professional development programmes for African journalists are an opportunity for African trainees to be socialised in Chinese values, norms, and expert knowledge. These trainings contribute to build a positive image of China in Africa and are far more successful than material approaches including establishing Chinese media outlets across Africa.


Africa China knowledge–power nexus soft power 



An earlier version of this article was presented at ISA Annual Conference in 2015. The author thanks Nadine Godehardt, Ty Solomon, and Badredine Arfi for their feedback, as well as the editors and reviewers of the Journal of International Relations and Development. Research for this article was supported by Funds from the Office of Research and the Department of Political Science at the University of Florida.


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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Wake Forest UniversityWinston SalemUSA

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