Upcoming Event: “A decade of China’s media going global: issues and perspectives”

Online | Paris Aubervilliers
31st May 2022
Deadline: 15th Feb 2022

The year 2012 stands as a significant milestone in China’s government-led external communication activities. It was in early 2012 that Beijing launched television broadcasting and production centers in Washington, DC, USA (CCTV America, now CGTN America) and Nairobi, Kenya (CGTN Africa). Later in the year, it began publishing an African weekly edition of the English-language newspaper China Daily — European and Asian weekly editions launched in 2010. Set in motion under the leadership of President Hu Jintao, China’s global media expansion, part of a larger “going out” policy for the economy in general, sought to improve the country’s image overseas, and to give Beijing a larger say in global information flows.

Ten years on, Chinese media’s global engagement has not only grown, but diversified. Today, Chinese media companies are engaged in content production and distribution, direct investment in foreign media ventures, infrastructure development, training and media development efforts, and “managing” public opinion overseas. The growth and diversification of communication strategies can be partly explained by the fact that the global political and economic context under which Hu Jintao set out to improve China’s international image through external media expansion has changed. The rise (and fall) of Donald Trump in the United States, the use of social media for public diplomacy by “Wolf Warriors” in Xi Jinping’s China, and the debates about the coronavirus pandemic have encouraged a proliferation of polarised narratives. This is reflected in the global communicative strategies of the Chinese government.

Over the last decade, academics, diplomats and commentators have struggled to identify the most suitable constructs to understand China’s re-engagement with the global media system, and Beijing’s presumed aim of influencing global public opinion through the media. Debates around nomenclature have seen the rise (and, for some, fall) of concepts such as soft power, smart power, sharp power and discursive power. Academic fields as diverse as global communication, international relations, public diplomacy and strategic communications have all contributed to these debates, but more often than not, with limited dialogue between them.

After ten years of China’s “going out” strategy in the media sector, this post-conference asks: how should we think about and conceptualize China’s external communication in the 2020s? Are China’s external/global media still fulfilling the role envisaged for them a decade ago, and – if not – what are they now for? Do Chinese media present the threat to media freedom that many have envisioned, especially in countries where democratic institutions are fragile? What is the state of scholarly understanding of Chinese global media, and what key new strands of research and theory have emerged?

This one-day conference invites submissions (500 word abstracts) that address any of the following topics/issues (additional areas may also be considered):

Reflecting on the current state and future direction of research on China’s external communications
Contextualizing and historicizing China’s external communication
Comparing China’s media strategies to those of other global powers
Reflecting on the current state and future direction of research on China’s external communications

Additional information about this conference can be found at: https://ica-gcsc.org/activities/chinas-media-going-global-conference/.