Narrative Bias and China's Foreign Assistance to Africa

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Title: Narrative Bias and China's Foreign Assistance to Africa
Author: Hirvensalo, Kitta Milla
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Science, Department of Geosciences and Geography
Publisher: Helsingfors universitet
Date: 2012
Language: eng
Thesis level: master's thesis
Discipline: Regional Studies
Abstract: Recently, the world has begun to recognize China as an important aid donor, and with the rising popularity of the Chinese aid model in Africa, it has become a possible alternative to the traditional Western aid. Growing Chinese influence on the African continent has resulted in a biased discussion about Chinese aid, portrayed best by the overly positive Chinese narrative and the negatively inclined Western narrative. This thesis examined the bias present in news articles retrieved from Chinese, Western as well as African sources in relation to Chinese African aid by utilizing content analysis as the main method. The objective was to identify variation within each news source and to place the narratives they represented into respective regional socio-cultural contexts. The research identified a pattern of increasing bias in both the Chinese and Western news sources. The overall tone of the Chinese news articles was mainly positive, whereas the Western news source portrayed a critical and dominantly negative bias in relation to Sino-African cooperation and aid. Both African news sources selected for this research were predominantly neutral. The findings of the research supported the hypothesis that socio-culturally embedded narratives reflect their regional contexts providing varying views towards Chinese aid. Especially in the context of Chinese African aid, the narratives have become increasingly polarized ranging in the far realms of reality, possibly hindering the future of international aid and the development of the African continent.

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