China’s Public Diplomacy in Zimbabwe: perceptions, opportunities and challenges

Simon Matingwina


Contemporary Chinese engagements in Africa have been described in many terms by scholars and media practitioners. One of the threads in the China-Africa discourse is the role of public diplomacy and the desire by the Chinese government to engage African governments and citizens. Using insights from the concept of public diplomacy and new public diplomacy, this study seeks to understand China’s public di-plomacy in Zimbabwe by analysing news stories from the Chinese Embassy Website in order to discern the key actors and instruments used. Furthermore, the study uses the media reports from the private and public media as a barometer to form valuable insights on how the Chinese engagements and public diplomacy initiatives are perceived. Focus is particularly placed on convergences and departures between official Chinese public diplomacy narratives and the local media perceptions. The study finds that China has maintained the traditional state-centred public diplomacy model and that it has extensively focused on relationship building in its public diplomacy approaches in Zimbabwe which is in line with new public diplomacy. However, there are divergences between the themes prioritised by China and those prioritised by the local media which points to a possible communication gap. The study, therefore, proposes a proactive approach by China for effective public diplomacy in Zim-babwe.

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