Some commentators have criticized China's State-led efforts to strengthen the country's "soft power." Joseph Nye, to whom the soft power concept is credited, observed that the China just "doesn't get soft power." Big state-funded initiatives, such as the global roll-out of Confucius Institutes and investments in CCTV and Xinhua, have headlined China's culture-heavy public relations drive.
The Chinese have been growing their media presence in Africa in recent years as part of a "soft diplomacy" strategy — using culture and information to spread its influence and counter what it views as unfair treatment in global media. A paper on this topic by Yu-Shan Wu at the South African Institute of International Affairs describes soft power, or ruanshili to use the Mandarin term, as an "important instrument to help a state achieve its most desired goal with the least objection".
China has launched a drive to win "hearts and minds" in Africa just as western powers – including Britain and America – are cutting back on their spending on international broadcasting. In January China Central Television (CCTV) launched its first African hub in Nairobi.
At a time when most Western broadcasting and newspaper companies are retrenching, China’s state-run news media giants are rapidly expanding in Africa and across the developing world. They are hoping to bolster China’s image and influence around the globe, particularly in regions rich in the natural resources needed to fuel China’s powerhouse industries and help feed its immense population.
With sparkling new offices in Washington, D.C., on New York Avenue since February 6, and a staff of 75 soon to be 100, CCTV America is making a serious and well-financed bid to be a player in the U.S. media market. CCTV America is a subsidiary of China Central TV, the Chinese state broadcaster, whose global ambitions have been making headlines.
Beijing’s image is complicated at best in Africa, where it is building major infrastructure projects and boosting local economies, but is also accused of overlooking human rights abuses in its quest for natural resources. China’s foreign investments are a dynamic source of support to America’s economy, but the massive U.S.-China trade deficit is a point of tension.
CCTV Africa's mission will be to present the good truth of China \[...] and to show the good experiences of its economic development."...until recently, the country did not wish to export its culture, but in 2008 things changed. The following year President Hu Jintao used the concept of soft power for the very first time, connecting it to the diffusion of Chinese culture and influence around the world.
CCTV America, from its studio in Washington, D.C., is part of Beijing’s outreach of telling its own story through its own voice. The expansion has been dramatic and expensive. They are covering stories of Chinese interest that are not covered by Western media or not covered in a way the Chinese want.