Media representation of China in the time of pandemic: A comparative study of Kenyan and Ethiopian media

Li, Hangwei
External Publications (2021)

in: Journal of African Media Studies 13 (3), 417-434


China has been a pivotal player throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, yet there is very little research on how China’s role and effort have been interpreted among African countries that are diverged in their crisis responses. Through content and discourse analysis of the local media and more than 50 in-depth interviews, this study investigates media representation of China during the coronavirus pandemic in the Kenyan and Ethiopian newspapers, specifically Kenyan’s Daily Nation and The Standard, and the Ethiopian Herald and The Reporter. This study finds that Kenyan newspapers adopted a more critical and problem-centred narrative, as many of its news articles are organized around problems such as the ‘debt-trap diplomacy’, and the mistreatment of Africans in Guangzhou during the pandemic. Unlike Kenyan newspapers, Ethiopian newspapers adopted a more positive and favourable tone towards China. This article also captures the dynamics behind the production of China-related news during the pandemic, and discusses how the media environment, professional norms, journalistic habitus, the ‘rules of games’ (i.e. who counts as an important source) have fundamentally shaped the news production.

About the author

Li, Hangwei

Political Science


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