Conference: Asia and Africa in Transition

Panel: China going global: Historical trajectories, current debates, and future prospects

Convener: Jun Liu, Dept. of Communication, University of Copenhagen

2020 marks the twenty-first year after China launched its “going global” strategy, which frames China’s ambitions for global leadership and cooperation. While at the beginning the strategy mostly promoted Chinese investments abroad, recent developments illustrate that it also transforms the country from a manufacturing export platform into an overseas investment powerhouse in various aspects beyond the economic sphere. China’s “Belt and Road Initiative” demonstrates its intention to increase its influence on global infrastructure development, and at the same time exporting its excess contractor capacity. The expanding global influence of Huawei, China’s controversial tech giant, has led Washington to raise concerns about whether the Chinese government could use the company to spy, or to sabotage critical information infrastructure. Owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, the video-sharing app TikTokis available in 155 countries and emerging as currently the world’s hottest social media app. Yet, TikTok is also spreading norms that stand at odds with the understanding of free speech advanced by Silicon Valley, as it has come under fire for allegedly suppressing content that Beijing deems politically unfavorable. Christopher Walker from the National Endowment for Democracy employs the term “sharp power” to describe attempts by countries like China to manipulate information about itself in the news media to mislead or divide public opinion in a target country. How can we situate current developments of the Going Global strategy in its historical context? How can we understand recent changes and on-going debates over China’s Going Global strategy? What would be future prospects for China to project its influence internationally? This panel aims to gather scholars with different backgrounds and experiences to deliberate above issues from diverse perspectives, such as overseas investment, information infrastructure and policy, and culture industries.

Panel programme

Session 1: Wednesday, 30 June, 9:00-11:00 (Copenhagen time/CEST)

Time Title of presentation Author
9:00-9:10 A short introduction Jun Liu, University of Copenhagen
9:10-9:40 Many Chinas? Provincial Internationalization and Chinese Foreign Direct Investment in Africa

Pippa Morgan, Duke Kunshan University

(Respondent: Barbara Schulte)

9:40-10:10 China-EU-Africa Trilateral Cooperation: Opportunities and challenges

Wang Zhongkui, National University of Defense Technology

(Respondent: Pippa Morgan)

10:10-10:40 Educational aid and “soft power”: China’s engagement in African education

Barbara Schulte, University of Vienna

(Respondent: Wang Zhongkui)

10:45-11:00 Open discussion


Session 2: Wednesday, 30 June, 13:15-15:15 (Copenhagen time/CEST)

Time Title of presentation Author
13:15-13:45 The Digital Belt & Road Initiative as China’s “Going Global” Strategy 3.0

Alex He, Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI)

(Respondent: Tor Christian Dahl-Eriksen)

13:45-14:15 When China ‘goes global’

Tor Christian Dahl-Eriksen, The Arctic University of Norway

(Respondent: Alex He)

14:15-14:45 More than the Chinese Pagoda in Tivoli: An analysis of Chinese Semiotic Landscape in
Copenhagen

Ziyu Yuan, University of Copenhagen

(Respondent: Sheng-mei Ma)

14:45-15:15 Afro-Asian Filmic Duet

Sheng-mei Ma, Michigan State University

(Respondent: Ziyu Yuan)

Session 3: Wednesday, 30 June, 15:30-16:30 (Copenhagen time/CEST)

Time Title 
15:30-16:30 Discussion on the next step and possible publication on a special issue in Global
Media and China