Chinese soft power in Africa in the COVID-19 era


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This year has been tough for China’s soft-power engagement in Africa. A furious backlash to anti-African discrimination in Guangzhou in April, growing public hostility to Chinese debt, and, of course, questions about Chinese accountability for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have all presented formidable challenges to Beijing’s reputation management on the continent.

While there’s no doubt that China’s popularity has taken a hit among large swathes of African civil society, that is not the case among the continent’s governing elites, where state-to-state relationships remain as strong and stable as ever.

Paul Nantulya is a research associate at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies in Washington, D.C. He joins Eric and Cobus to discuss China’s soft-power strategy in Africa and how, in many ways, it’s fundamentally different from those of U.S. and European governments.