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China in Africa: The Real Story

Chinese Aid and Cooperation: Media Coverage

Deborah Brautigam

A Finnish student's master's thesis on bias in media coverage of Chinese aid and cooperation finds that media coverage (unsurprisingly) from China was overwhelmingly positive, that from the West overwhelmingly negative, and that from Africa, on balance, neutral. The dissertation starts with the observation that Western beliefs about Chinese aid and cooperation have real consequences:
This was demonstrated when Finland announced at the beginning of 2012 that it would revalue its development co-operation starting from March. Development Co-operation Minister Heidi Hautala indicated that human rights were to become the new main focus of Finland’s aid. The reason for this shift was announced to be the increased involvement of China and other rising donors in development aid practices. The newspaper Helsingin Sanomat (HS 2012) reported that China, which according to widely held beliefs tends to neglect human rights, has a growing effect on Africa and therefore, the rest of the world should be more concentrated on balancing against this neglect and improving the human rights facet of aid. This means that the perceptions about Chinese aid, no matter how close to or far away from the truth they are, are actually influencing the decisions other countries are making regarding their foreign assistance policies.
The author is Kitta Hirvensaloor. For more, continue here.