This article is from WeChat official account:Global Media Journal (ID: GJMS2014) , author: Luo Chen (Tsinghua University School of Journalism and dissemination of doctoral students), Wang Yirong (Journalism and Communication of Tsinghua University doctoral student), the original title: “media exposure, with values ​​in China “African Impact Evaluation”, the title picture comes from Visual China

China-Africa relations have attracted much attention in recent years. This study draws on the soft power framework and analyzed 35,690 interviewees in 33 African countries, and explored how the media exposure and value orientation of African people affect their evaluation of China’s influence in Africa. The results show that radio and television contact and impact evaluation are positively correlated, newspaper contact and evaluation are negatively correlated, and the Internet has not been able to significantly influence evaluation; at the value level, the higher the interviewee’s evaluation of the country’s democracy and freedom, the easier it is to influence China Give a positive evaluation. The researchers then interpret the research findings around the social situation in Africa, the reality of China-Africa interaction, and the implicit constructs of the indicators.

I. Introduction

Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Egypt in May 1956, China-Africa diplomatic history has been over 60 years. In recent years, the China-Africa cooperation mechanism has been continuously deepened, and fixed-point breakthroughs have been achieved in the areas of infrastructure construction, trade exchanges, and peace maintenance. In 2013, the “One Belt One Road” initiative was proposed. As an important multilateral diplomatic concept in China’s future diplomatic strategy, the “Belt and Road” promotes the deepening of traditional China-Africa cooperation, which is conducive to exploring the potential of China-Africa cooperation and accelerating the process of African integration(Shi Zhiqin et al., 2018a).

International relations are often considered to be determined by international exchanges between sovereign states through specialized diplomatic agencies. With the rise of the public diplomacy model, international relations are not only related to the verticals and horizontals between political bodies, but also need to take into account the public’s perception, understanding, and identification with other countries. At present, most African governments have a more positive attitude towards China, but the African public’s perception and evaluation of China remains to be explored (Kurlantzick et al., 2006) . From the perspective of attitude formation mechanism, the attitude object (attitude object) often involves a collection of elements including individual experience, value orientation, and cognitive level (Stern et al., 1995). Corresponding to the Sino-African relationship, it can be found that the interactive game between China and Africa has always been “third-party power” (Pang Xun, Liu Ziye, 2019) A typical example is that Sino-African relations have been affected by the conflict between Chinese and Western values. Existing studies have shown that there is an antinomy between China’s hard power and soft power. African people affirm China’s economic development, but lack recognition and recognition of China’s values ​​(Shi Anbin, Wang Xi, 2014). At the same time, The “American democracy” based on procedural justice and liberalism has prevailed globally, gradually building a “myth” of liberal democracy (Shen Hao, Li Yuru, 2018 ). In recent years, with the deepening of the concept of global communication and the Chinese media “going global” (going global) strategy implementation (Hu et al., 2013; Sun, 2015; Shi Anbin, Zhang Yaozhong, 2019), the use of media to convey, construct, and adjust the national image has become a diplomatic system China’s active expansion of media influence has also provided weight for its powerful competition in the international discourse field, especially the one-dimensional coverage and hegemonic ideology conveyed by Western media. Countermeasures.

As Joseph Nye said (Joseph Nye Jr.), a country’s soft power is often reflected in its culture, political values, and foreign policy. (Nye, 2004). The media, as an important discourse dissemination platform, an intermediary for the construction of individual experience, and an effective environmental shaping force, has become an important support for the country to implement its soft power strategy (Zhao, 2017). This study hopes to cut into the media and values, which are two factors closely related to soft power, and explore how they affect the evaluation of African people’s influence on China. At present, research on China-Africa relations mainly follows the national and corporate perspectives. There are very few empirical studies around individuals and rooted in representative cross-country survey data. This study draws on the framework of soft power theory, selects appropriate measurement indicators, analyzes African transnational survey data, and complements the existing research landscape based on theoretical analysis and policy interpretation.

II. Literature review and questioning

(1) Soft power, hard power and power

Power is the cornerstone of international relations research (Pang Xun, Quan Jiayun, 2015), and it is also one of the most controversial concepts in the social sciences (Guo Zhenzhi, Feng Ruogu, 2015). According to Barnett, an international relations scholar, power has multimodal characteristics. Following the two axes of power generation mechanism and relationship specificity, power can be disassembled into coercive power, institutional power, structural power, and productive power( Barnett & Duvall, 2005). Nye’s framework for the classification of soft and hard power is a simplified representation of power itself. Soft power means that a country uses coercion or attraction rather than coercive means to shape the target country’s public preference and long-term attitude towards the country (Nye, 1990)< /span>. Soft power emphasizes the attractiveness and charisma of culture, political system and foreign policy (Nye, 2004). Hard power favors coercion rather than attracting or persuading, including the use of military intervention, coercive diplomacy, economic sanctions and other means to achieveCurrent national interest (Wilson, 2008).

The classification of soft and hard power forms a counterpoint to Barnett’s view of power to a certain extent. Hard power is similar to coercive power driven by realism, while soft power covers intangible resources such as systems, culture, and values, and is linked to the power of speech and the influence of ideas (Guo Zhenzhi, Feng Ruogu, 2015). When soft power is understood as the expression of culture, the attractiveness of policies, and exchanges with other countries, it corresponds to productive, institutional, and structural power, respectively. Taking the national narrative ability in soft power as an example, the frequently mentioned “Whose story is better?” (Whose story wins?) In fact, it reflects the struggle for discourse power in the international public opinion field. Discourse is a productive resource that guarantees the production and reproduction of specific ideologies or values. Discourse power will eventually affect the power structure of the real society.(Arquilla & Ronfeldt, 2001; Nye, 2010; Guo et al., 2019).

In its essence, soft power is a concept born in the Western context and under the vision of capitalist power. As soon as it was put forward, it closely focused on the strengthening of American world hegemony. Soft power in China is more like a reformed concept that dispels the ideological background, connects with official discourse, and takes the construction of national culture and the improvement of national communication capabilities as the leading direction.(Hu et al., 2013). When this research draws on the framework of soft power, it hopes to critically absorb the concept in the specific historical and social context. Researchers tend to view “soft power” as a measurement construct, and do not recognize the underlying motivation behind it. Hard power and soft power are the two sides of national power. When focusing on soft power, the hard power indicators summarized by the predecessors that affect China-Africa relations will also be included in order to accurately assess the impact of soft power indicators on the evaluation of African people. influences.

(2) Media and National Image Construction

The evaluation of a country’s influence is often related to the perception of the country’s image by the people of other countriesclosely related. National image construction can be regarded as an open negotiation process. A country often tries to define and modify its own image. The mass media here becomes a platform on which negotiation relies and defines the field of development(Dai & Chen, 2014). The state fully invokes the media’s agenda setting function (Manheim & Albritton, 1983) and the frame effect (Charles, 2015) to convey one’s own cultural values ​​and behavior patterns, express national temperament and form identity. In fact, the image that the country hopes to convey is not completely consistent with the image of the country perceived by the public. The obstacles in image construction and acceptance include the stereotypes in the minds of the people, the existing ideological foundations in the society, and the distinction between different cultures, etc. (Wang, 2003). Faced with this situation, the media is responding from both quality and quantity. Take China as an example. At the qualitative level, we will try to lead the cognition and attitude of the public in other countries through the use of attractive and assimilating cultural symbols and expressions (Dai & Chen, 2014); At the level of volume, the state finances provide strong support for the development of cross-domain media, and media channels, program types, and overseas audiences continue to grow (Hu & Ji, 2012).

In recent years, Chinese media “going out” (Chinese media”going-out”)The strategy aims to change the global communication pattern of Western media China’s dominant position in building a positive image of China, and reversing the stereotype or deliberately biased construction of China in Western discourse. The external cause of the Chinese media’s globalization is to eliminate the unidirectional flow of information created by media imperialism, and to criticize the Chinese threat theory and China’s theory of responsibility in the Western media; the internal cause is that China needs to demonstrate its responsibility that matches its rising international status. The image of a great country (Zhao, 2017). China’s media construction in Africa is very important. The current media construction in Africa is first and foremost to consolidate the relatively visible information domain (infosphere), And then pursue a breakthrough in the conceptual domain (noosphere), and achieve a wide spread of values, ideas, and strategies (Zaharna, 2016) to cultivate the positive perception of the influence of China among African people. Based on the above background, this article puts forward the first research question:

RQ1: How does African people’s exposure to radio, television, newspapers, and the Internet affect their assessment of China’s influence in Africa?

With the continuous evolution of emerging communication technologies represented by the Internet, the relationship between the Internet and the construction of national image has gained attention. One view is that the delocalization of the Internet (de-territorialised) extends the range of cross-cultural communication, promotes the diversification of communication forms, and helps The “outside publicity” model has entered a new stage. Compared with other media types, China has the ability to compete with Western developed countries in the field of Internet communication, and can use the Internet to implement more effective image building strategies (Sun , 2015); another view is that the higher the degree of Internet penetration in the social environment, the more likely the original hierarchical information distribution model will be replaced by a horizontal model (Lu & Luo, 2020). In Africa, the role of the Internet in regulating the information environment is more obvious. A report shows that African people can obtain information from the Internet that is not provided by traditional media. The Internet has broken through government blockade to a certain extent and has played a relatively loose and free information pool role(Balancing Act, 2014). Following this logic, it may be difficult for African people to have a consistent general understanding of China’s influence in Africa. The free flow of information brought about by the popularization of the Internet may allow African people to align China with Western countries.The home is placed in a comparative context, which creates a sense of uncertainty and doubts about China’s series of diplomatic actions, which may greatly compromise the country’s image construction strategy implemented by China. Considering the transformative effect of media technology on the overall structure and operational logic of society, the researchers then put forward the following research questions:

RQ2: How will the popularity of the Internet in African countries affect the assessment of China’s influence in Africa?

(3) Values ​​as the focus of Chinese and Western debates

China and Africa share the experience of resisting colonialism and pursuing national independence. China’s early diplomacy with Africa was mainly driven by ideology. China hopes to help African countries achieve independence and unite African countries against colonialism and imperialism. (Davies, 2007) . Shi Anbin and Zhang Yaozhong (2019) believe that China mainly pursued the image construction strategy of “Red China” during the period from the establishment of New China to the beginning of reform and opening up. The strategy is inevitably over-politicized and ideological. During the “Red China” period, about 40 African countries established diplomatic relations with China. Although China worked hard to downplay the political color when constructing its image, some of the stereotypes and narrow labels left over from the “Red China” stage still continue to this day.

In the process of Sino-African exchanges, European and American countries, as third-party forces, intervened in Sino-African relations in the field of meaning production either from the superior perspective of the former colonists or from the anxiety caused by the decline of their own power. Values ​​can be said to be the focus of the struggle between China and the West. Take the United States as an example. In its diplomacy with Africa, the United States requires African countries to meet its own definition of “good governance”, protect its own “human rights”, and repeatedly emphasize the principles of democracy and freedom. In contrast, China adheres to the principles of equality and mutual trust. The United States is worried that China will establish an exclusive sphere of influence in Africa, and it is also worried that China will export the “Chinese model” and shake the US-led liberal democratic order (Wang Lei, 2018).

The ideas of freedom and democracy have become the values ​​and norms that some Western countries spare no effort to practice, and these values ​​are closely related to the interests of Western countries. Dai & Chen (2014) found that when reporting on China, Western media often regard freedom of speech and Western democratic paths as universal principles, and use this to measure China’s social reality, ignoring China The complexity and particularity of society. Zhao (2017) further pointed out that the core of soft power is values, and values ​​are the basis for meaning generation. The key to the trend of foreign policy and international relations. Differences in Chinese and Western values ​​can easily lead China into the discourse trap of “neocolonialism” and “power exchanges.” This study raises the following questions about the values ​​of democracy and freedom in the focus of Sino-Western diplomatic disputes:

RQ3: How does African people’s perception of the degree of democracy and freedom in their country affect their evaluation of China’s influence in Africa?

Three, data and methods

(1) Data source

The survey data of African citizens comes from the sixth round of survey of (Afrobarometer). Africa Barometer is an independent pan-African research institution that conducts questionnaire surveys in African countries from time to time on topics such as democracy, national governance, and economic conditions. The sixth round of survey data was released in 2016, covering 36 countries on the African continent. The Afrobarometer adopts a multi-stage sampling method including stratified sampling, and selects at least 1,200 respondents in each country according to 95% confidence and 2.8% sampling error standards. The final sample can effectively represent the country’s voting qualifications. Citizen of (Afrobarometer, 2017). The data at the national level mainly come from the China-Africa Research Project Database of the University of Advanced International Studies and the International Telecommunication Union of (Johns Hopkins) (International Telecommunication Union).

This study matches country-level data according to the year of implementation of the survey in each country. At the individual level, samples with missing values, no answers, refusal to answer, and “don’t know” options were excluded. In the end, 35690 samples from 33 countries (Table 1) were included in the analysis.

(2) measurement

The question item in the outcome variable selection questionnaire is “Overall, how do you evaluate China’s economic and political influence on your country”. This question is a general measure of China’s influence. The interviewer’s evaluation of China’s political and economic influence has become more and more positive. This question has good surface validity.

Explain variables. Select the item in the questionnaire “How often do you get news from radio, television, newspaper, and Internet channels” to measure media exposure. The four variables are in low-to-moderate correlation, and the result of factor analysis is not ideal. It proves that it is impossible to carry out the merger of media types in accordance with the conventional “traditional media/new media” dichotomous model, which also reflects the particularity of the development of the media industry and media consumption patterns in Africa. The researcher then subdivided media contact into four variables to investigate.

In terms of values, according to Ahlbom &Povitkina’s summary of (2016), etc., implemented the freedom of citizens to the three sub-fields of association, expression, and political participation, using the ” In this country, you can speak freely, join the political organization you want to participate in, and how much freedom to vote”. The three variables are highly correlated, and their calculated average is used as a measure of the people’s perception of the freedom of the country in which they are located. The overarching item in the questionnaire “What do you think of the degree of democracy in your country” is used to measure the degree of democracy. Compared with the subdivision of democracy, the answer to this item can show that the interviewee is concerned about the country’s democracy. Comprehensive view of the situation. What needs to be stated is that the democratic and free values ​​measurement methods adopted in this study follow the traditional meaning of democracy and freedom in the West. This set of values ​​and “freedom of institutions and freedom of elections” (free institutions and elections) is closely related. In fact, the experience outside the West also provides a lot of annotations on democracy and freedom (Von Vacano, 2014). The reason why researchers choose the concept of democracy and freedom based on the Western sense is that the relevant measurement indicators are relatively mature and have been widely used in existing research (Claassen, 2020).

In addition, the gender (54.48% of men), age, employment status (41.51% of employed persons), income level, and education level are control items at the individual level.

At the national level, the Internet penetration rate corresponding to each country’s survey year is used to measure Internet penetration. According to the research of Nisbet et al. (2012), control the Human Development Index (Human Development Index) to avoid confusion and bias. In terms of hard power, it mainly examines Sino-African tradeForeign Direct Investment in China (Davies, 2007; Pang Xun, 2015; Tang Xiaoyang, 2015; Tang Xiaoyang, Xiong Xinghan, 2015; Qi, 2016; Tang & Sun, 2016) , including China’s export quotas to African countries and the status of trade balance (Africa’s trade deficit accounted for 87.88%), originated from China Foreign direct investment (FDI) flow three indicators. Correspondingly, at the individual level, the perception of national economic conditions and the perception of individual living standards are added to reflect the national hard power in the individual’s cognition. The descriptive statistical results of all continuous variables are shown in Table 2.

Before the formal analysis, normality test and multicollinearity test were performed on country-level data, and logarithmic transformation was performed on variables that did not conform to the normal distribution. The results showed that there was no multicollinearity in country-level variables(Maximum VIF is 3.24), also at the individual level (Maximum VIF is 1.77) span>.

(three) analysis

Considering the nested nature of the data, the researcher chooses a multi-level model to analyze the research problem. The model can decompose residual items, consider individual effects and group effects comprehensively, and take into account fixed effects and random effects. In the specific estimation method, choose the maximum likelihood method suitable for large samples to estimate the coefficients.

four, analysis conclusionFruit

As shown in Table 3, first perform total alignment and group alignment on the country and individual level variables respectively, and then run the empty model (Model 1 ). The average evaluation of the impact on China in the sample is regarded as the fixed effect part, and the random intercept error term and the individual-level residual error term are regarded as the random effect part. The results show that about 16.4% of the variation in individual evaluation can be decomposed to the national level, proving the appropriateness of the multi-level model.

Model 2 and Model 3 are random intercept models that include soft power indicators and all indicators of soft and hard power. Broadcasting (β=0.009,p<0.1), TV (β=0.017 , P<0.001) exposure is positively correlated with impact evaluation, while newspaper exposure (β=-0.014, p<0.05) and impact The evaluation is negatively correlated, and the relationship between Internet exposure and impact evaluation is not significant. Research question 1 is answered.

Research Question 2 focuses on the relationship between Internet penetration and impact evaluation. The statistical results show that the relationship between the two is not significant, and the human development of a countryThe higher the index (β=-2.749, p<0.05), the lower the evaluation of the country’s influence on China.

Research Question 3 focuses on the effects of indicators at the value level, and the results show democracy (β=0.128, p<0.001), freedom (β=0.081, p<0.001) There is a positive correlation between perception of status quo and impact evaluation.

5. Discussion and conclusion

As far as the relationship between media and impact evaluation is concerned, due to the lack of detailed statistical data of Chinese media in Africa, this study can only be approximated based on the interviewee’s media exposure. The analysis results confirm to a certain extent China’s current media construction strategy. Radio and television, which play a positive role, are two communication ports strongly supported by the Chinese government. The Africa series of television channels opened by China Central Television (CCTV Africa, now CGTN) Africa) is a typical example (Hu & Ji, 2012). The construction of radio and television in Africa is regarded as a key component of China’s “charm offensive” (charm offensive) to enhance China’s image and promote constructiveness News reporting mode, deepening African people’s understanding of China (Zhao & Xiang, 2019).

There are two explanations for the negative effects of newspaper use: First, the African continent coexists with multiple languages. People may prefer to contact newspapers in their own familiar language. Most of the overseas newspapers published in China use English as the reporting language, which is not yet effective. Coping with the environment where multiple languages ​​coexist; Moreover, existing research shows that the education level of TV-dominant audiences and TV-broadcasting composite audiences is lower than that of TV-paper-media composite audiences(Shen Fei et al., 2014). This study found that the level of education as a control variable was significantly negatively correlated with the impact evaluation in each model, that is, the respondent The higher the level of education, the lower the evaluation of China’s influence in Africa. The negative relationship used by newspapers may be a reflection of the educational influence mechanism.

Whether it is from the perspective of individual contact or environmental changes, the relationship between the Internet and impact assessment is not significant. As the research report reveals, although the Internet has opened up a new space for discourse in Africa, its development speed is slow and its popularity is limited. The development of the Internet in Africa has shown a clear gap in access. Those who are able to use the Internet are often with lower socioeconomic status. High urban residents (Balancing Act, 2014). Afrobarometer survey data also show that the proportion of active users of radio and television is the highest, while the proportion of active Internet users is the lowest. The stagnation of Internet infrastructure construction and the highly skewed allocation of related resources limit its effectiveness in transforming the information pattern and social structure.

In terms of values, the higher the African public’s perception of democracy and freedom in their country, the more likely they are to positively evaluate China’s influence. This result is not unrelated to the questionnaire item design. As Helgesen & Li (1996) revealed, the democracy that is widely talked about today basically evolved in the context of Western history and culture Democracy, the Western democratic model has even been given the status of universal truth. People often pay attention to the principles of civil rights and free expression in Western democracy, but ignore the many problems behind this democratic mechanism, and even ignore or underestimate the birth of non-Western languages. Other forms of democracy that have been tested in practice. In the Afrobarometer questionnaire, the topics on democracy and freedom are rooted in the democratic values ​​in the Western model, and are closely linked to the freedom of participation, the freedom of elections, and the freedom of speech. However, many studies have found that the higher the degree of democracy and freedom in a country, the more likely it is to deepen the public’s distrust of the operating mechanism of public affairs and weaken the confidence in the democratic mechanism( Kerr & Lührmann, 2016). From an individual perspective, research has also revealed that when people enjoy more information access opportunities and freedom of expression, they will reduce trust in the government and increase disobedience to the existing order (Im et al., 2014; Gainous et al., 2015). Starting from this, under the presupposition of Western-style democracy and freedom, the higher the public’s perception of democracy and freedom, the stronger the distrust of the country’s political operation mode, and the higher the degree of doubt about it. At the same time, the practice of Western-style democracy and freedom has also exposed more of its shortcomings in its specific operations in Africa, such as arguing with each other, negotiating without making a decision, low efficiency, lack of long-term goals, and emphasizing personal interests over overall development, etc. . Under the combined effect of these two factors, the African public is more inclined to accept the development model with Chinese characteristics, and therefore gives a positive evaluation of China’s influence in Africa.

The Human Development Index focuses on the abundance of a country’s material resources and the impact of material development on individual lives (Sagar & Najam, 1998). At present, China-Africa diplomacy is based on economy and trade. Economic assistance, cross-border investment, and FDI from China have become the main core of China-Africa economic exchanges. This process is helpful to the economic development and modernization of African countries. When the material level of an African country is higher, its citizens may think that the country where they are located does not need to rely on China for their development, or they may turn their attention to the shortcomings in China-Africa relations. Shi Zhiqin and others pointed out that Sino-African trade is facing the risk of a growing African trade deficit with China, and African countries may bear a heavy debt burden. Other negative threats include the weak sense of social responsibility of Chinese companies, causing damage to African ecology (Tang & Sun, 2016), Chinese products squeezing African products Market survival space (Ademola et al., 2009) etc. When a country’s material abundance becomes higher, the people may go beyond the pure modern development imagination and material values ​​to gain insight into the potential threats after international relations and the negative effects of economic exchanges. This discovery also corresponds to the post-materialism proposed by Inglehart(1977)(postmaterialism) turn. Although this turn is based on the changes in public values ​​triggered by the development of Western society, its descriptive effectiveness seems to surpass the Western context. This argument is used in other types of societies.The applicability of it is worthy of further inquiry.

Using the soft power theory in international relations research as a fulcrum, this research focuses on how the two representative elements of soft power, media contact and values, affect the evaluation of African people’s influence on China. Contact with different types of media has produced different effects. The perception of the status quo of democracy and freedom has not weakened the evaluation of China’s influence in Africa, but has shown a positive relationship. The policy implication of this study is: In addition to investing and building in the field of radio and television, China should also design suitable media development strategies based on the multilingual ecology of Africa and the slow construction of new media in Africa; facing the value level of Western society To attack, China should show its affinity and appeal for its own development path, and demonstrate its comparative advantages at the institutional level and in the field of values ​​by virtue of diplomatic ties.

This article is a general project of the National Social Science Fund “The role and path of information dissemination in the construction of a community with a shared future for mankind in the Internet age” (18BXW112) And the phased achievement of the Ministry of Education’s Philosophy and Social Science Major Project “Research on the Strategy of Going Out of Chinese Culture in the New Era” (Project Approval Number: 18JZD012).

This article is from WeChat official account:Global Media Journal (ID: GJMS2014) , author: Luo Chen (Tsinghua University School of Journalism and dissemination of doctoral students), Wang Yirong (Journalism and Communication of Tsinghua University doctoral student), original text published in “global media Journal” 2020 Issue 4.