Putting China’s presence into perspective: media representations in Ghana and Nigeria

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Debates on China’s presence within Africa have structurally underrepresented the perspective of those on the receiving end: African people. This study has aimed to capture those perceptions through researching media representations of China in Ghanaian and Nigerian national private newspapers. Results illustrated representations to be discursively varied. A majority of those representations are framed dichotomously as either positive or negative, underlining polarisation within media representations of China. This observation is partly explained by the tendency of the media to capture the more extreme, which is upsetting in that it provides less and less room for nuance and understanding for people perceived as different. However, that does not mean that representations are not ambiguous and contradictory at times. Ghanaian and Nigerian newspapers tend to both portray China relatively positively overall. Particularly political representations of China tend to be positively framed more often in both countries, while business/economical representations are more often framed negatively. Nevertheless, Ghanaian newspapers are somewhat more openly positive of China’s presence, which is also why those representations tend to be political in nature more often, and vice versa business/economic in nature more often in Nigerian newspapers. Similar differences have also been identified between individual newspapers.
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