Media Development with Chinese Characteristics


  • Iginio Gagliardone University of Oxford


media development, China-Africa relations, conceptions of the information society, African media


Chinese authorities often frame their activities in the development sector as distinctive from those pursued by Western donors by stressing that they are not seeking to export a specific model but simply to help countries reach their potential. This demand-driven approach has applied to old and new development areas, from education to Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), and has appeared fairly consistent across countries. This pledge, however, has not meant that Chinese aid is neutral or without significant political implications. China’s concessionary loans and support to development projects have tended to shift balances of power by favouring certain actors over others and have challenged existing development paradigms, revitalizing ideas of the developmental state. Building on fieldwork conducted in Ghana, Ethiopia, and Kenya this article explains to which extent China’s entrance in the media and telecommunication sector actually challenges the dominant, Western-driven approaches to media development, promoting a state centred vision of the information society.

Author Biography

Iginio Gagliardone, University of Oxford

Iginio Gagliardone is British Academy Research Fellow in the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies and a member of the Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy at the University of Oxford. His research and publications focus on media and political change, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, and on the emergence of distinctive models of the information society worldwide. In the past few years, he has been leading various research projects, from examining the role of Information and Communication Technologies in peace-building and state-building in Eastern Africa, to understanding the increasing role of emerging powers such as China in the media and telecommunication sectors in Africa, to analysing the nature and significance of hate speech online, especially ahead of elections. He completed his PhD at the London School of Economics and Political Science, investigating the relationship between development and destabilization in Ethiopia. He is also Research Associate of the Centre of Governance and Human Rights at the University of Cambridge and of the Centre for Global Communication Studies (CGCS), Annenberg School of Communication, University of Pennsylvania.


How to Cite

Gagliardone, I. (2015). Media Development with Chinese Characteristics. Global Media Journal - German Edition, 4(2). Retrieved from