Soft power and international communication

China in Africa

Naren Chitty, Leshuo Dong

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This paper discusses the relationship between soft power theory emerging variously from the fields of international relations and international communication, noting the links to symbolic interactionism. Additionally it draws on the initiation of China's soft power to illustrate the ideal-typical notion of "ethical soft power". China has had connections with Africa since Admiral Zheng. He visited the eastern seaboard of the continent during the Ming Dynasty. The initial attraction was exerted by Africa, a new world full of strange animals and other wonders. A giraffe that was brought back to the emperor at this time was supposedly seen as a "qilin", a mythical beast that was associated with perfect good will, gentleness, benevolence to all and righteousness. The qualities attributed to the qilin may be associated with "ethical soft power". In the 21st century, China has entered a developmental relationship with the African continent and this has taken place at a time it is thinking seriously about its soft power capabilities and strategy. The China-Africa development relationship may be viewed usefully through the lens of soft power and measured in terms of "ethical soft power".
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationChina and the world
Subtitle of host publicationtheatres of soft power
EditorsNaren Chitty, Qing Luo
Place of PublicationBeijing
PublisherZhongguo chuan mei da xue chu ban she
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)9787565712609
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Publication series

NameICUC international series
PublisherZhongguo chuan mei da xue chu ban she

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