Media Coverage of China-Africa Relations: the Case of the BBC and ETV

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Addis Ababa University


The main aim of this study was examining the media coverage of China- Africa relations in light of Framing and Orientalism theories. The study focused on the 21st century China- Africa relations, when China has become one of the world’s powerful nations and Africa has started building a new name. It also pointed out emphasized and deemphasized issues and commonly utilized media sources. To this end, a qualitative method, (particularly) textual analytic method was used. The BBC and ETV were selected purposefully and their online version of the news stories published from Jan. 2011 to Feb. 30, 2013, were collected from the websites, and, respectively. The analysis shows that the BBC and ETV online news stories used South-South co-operation frame, non-interference frame, and mutual benefit frame in articulating China-Africa relations. While ETV’s online news stories focused on success-oriented positive narratives in describing the relationship, the BBC online news stories presented both the positive and the negative sides of China-Africa relations a bit with some exaggerations on the negative side of the relationship. Along the negative side, the BBC online news stories framed the relationship as a new form of colonization. However, ETV had nothing to say about the negative consequences of China’s practice on the Continent. ETV online news stories highlighted the economic and political gains that have accrued from China-Africa relations, whereas they deemphasised the negative influence the relationship brought on Africa. The two selected media outlets represented China-Africa relations differently. What is more, while ETV’s news sources were predominantly official government sources, the BBC used an array of sources from different walks of life in its news production. This might be attributable to the fact that the two media outlets follow different models of journalism: ETV follows the developmental journalism model, whereas the BBC adheres to the liberal model. Finally, based on these findings a few recommendations have been suggested.



China-Africa Relations