Handbooks of Research on Contemporary China series
Edited by Carla P. Freeman
Chapter 6: Another angle on a new intimacy: Chinese perceptions of Africa and Latin America
The rise of China in the twenty-first century has seen the Asian giant begin to emerge in all four corners of the earth, including the continents of Africa and Latin America, which once held little relevance for the nation. In recent years, Sino-African and Sino-Latin American relations have become two of the most fashionable topics for researchers of many nationalities. However, how China’s own domestic audience sees these two relationships remains relatively poorly studied; the similarities and differences between the two from the popular perspective are also little explored. The difficulty in gaining sophisticated Chinese public opinion from quantitatively-oriented surveys alone has encouraged some researchers to turn to online discussion forums, in addition to academic or policy discourses, to get a real understanding of the attitude of the ordinary Chinese on various topics of interest, including China’s relationship with the rest of the world. Indeed, as I have shown elsewhere, the rapid development of the online community in China has given rise to new interactions between China and party-state authorities, including in the area of foreign policy, whereby public perceptions as expressed online may have an indirect influence on the policy process.
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