Africa through Chinese eyes: CAMRI PhD Researcher Published in new book.
The screen fills with close-ups of smiling African faces against a black-and-orange background: the carefree child, the gap-toothed man with smoke curling from his pipe. The faces retreat into an outline of a map of Africa as the saccharine background music dissolves into birdsong. The silhouette of an acacia tree appears. This is not the much-derided Western romantic stereotype of the continent: it is an extract from a promotional trailer on CCTV Africa, the embodiment of China’s ‘soft power’ drive and a spearhead of Chinese state television’s overseas expansion. Yet this image is at variance with the English-language channel’s professed ambitions. The Chinese premier, Li Keqiang, himself declared that ‘CCTV embraces the vision of seeing Africa from an African perspective and reporting Africa from the viewpoint of Africa’.
These contradictory messages prompt fundamental questions about CCTV’s expansion into Africa. Are the channel’s English-language news bulletins aimed at African or Chinese viewers? What kind of Africa – and indeed China – do they represent, and could the framing of African events by CCTV News provide an alternative to the perspective of international rivals? Is CCTV’s main mission in Africa to provide news or to act as mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party and state? This chapter addresses these questions by applying a cross-cultural variant of framing theory to the news content of CCTV’s Africa Live and that of its closest direct competitor, Focus on Africa from BBC World News TV.
These provocative opening lines come from Vivien Marsh’s chapter on Africa through Chinese eyes: new frames or the same old lens? African news in English from China Central Television, compared with the BBC, which is published in M. Bunce, S. Franks and C. Paterson (eds): Africa’s Media Image in the 21st Century: From the” Heart of Darkness” to” Africa Rising”. Abingdon: Routledge.