The project will build on previous research by the principal and co-investigators, who have experience of working together on various projects. The PI and the CI dr Musa Ndlovu are currently working together on a multi-country team investigating media systems in the BRICS countries, while the PI and CI prof Anbin Shi have collaborated around exchange projects between their respective universities, collaborated on various conferences in their respective countries and served on conference panels together. While previous research has been rather modest in scope, the opportunity to bring students on board will amplify this work and make the exploration of new avenues of research possible.

Professor Herman Wasserman, as principle investigator, provides overall direction of the project in line with the stated research questions, while the co-investigators will be responsible for overseeing sub-projects that relate to the various research questions, and will be co-responsible for supervising postgraduate students. It is envisaged that the cohort of postgraduate students will deepen the research in various specialist areas within the overall framework, according to their interests and expertise.

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It is anticipated that the study will utilize largely qualitative methods (interviews, textual analysis, focus groups), although students with a particular aptitude for quantitative methods will complement the qualitative approaches.

The proposed project will be conducted on various levels, so as to build on existing small-scale, exploratory work. The objective of the research is to better understand the role that the media are playing in facilitating or resisting China-South Africa relationships within the broader ambit of the BRICS group. Empirically, the objective of the project is to gather data over a three-year period and across different levels of investigation, so as to provide substantive evidence on the basis of which these theoretical developments may be based. As such, the project’s objective is to move beyond popular journalistic discourses and conjectures about China-South Africa relations and their impact on the media, to reach scholarly sound conclusions about the media’s role in these developing geopolitical relationships.

For our methodology, we will be doing content analyses of leading media covering the China-Africa relationship, conduct focus group interviews with audience members to gauge their attitudes towards Chinese media present in South Africa, e.g. China Daily and China Central Television, as well as individual interviews with South African journalists to gauge the extent to which they use and trust Chinese media (e.g. Xinhua news agency) as a source for their work.

Additionally, individual interviews with Chinese journalists and media executives to explore their practices, aims and objectives in relation to production of Chinese media aimed at South African audiences can also be set up. The above research will be conducted by students as part of their MA and PhD research, as well as by PI and Cis.