China's march into Africa

African Business - July 2006

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1. Content
i. Symbols of significance
President Hu Jintao, and the Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo. The original photo (with an airplane in the background, can be found here

ii. Area(s) in society that the symbols belong to
Both the two symbols belong to the area of politics. Both Mr. Hu Jintao and Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo

iii. Quantitative assessment
2 people

2. Communication
i. Image/symbol(s) used to symbolize China
Hu Jintao is used to symbolize China.

ii. Key connotations and denotations
China is expanding across the African continent by building friendly relationships with Africa countries.

iii. Interpretations of the key symbols, with focus on Chinese culture
The two political leaders embracing each other here in this cover, is the main subject of the cover story. President Hu Jintao, who symbolizes China in this cover, is smiling. President Hu Jintao is dressed in a very formal costume, which the Chinese leaders often wear during visit to foreign countries to show his respect. (The Chinese thinks that wearing a formal costume symbolize respect for others.) While the African leader, who is dressed in the traditional African costumes, is also smiling.
Moreover, the face of Chairman Hu Jintao can be seen clearly, but as to the African leader, it is his back that can be seen, and this back can represent the political leader from any African countries. So here, this cover tries to convey the meaning that China is marching into Africa by building friendly relationships with African countries.
As the core of the forth generation of the leading group from 2005, Hu Jintao has proposed scientific outlook on development. Scientific outlook on development includes people foremost, development in an all-around way, coordinated development and sustainable development. Under the guidance of scientific outlook on development, Hu Jintao puts forward to build a harmonious socialist society.
President Hu Jintao inherits not only the predecessors' achievements but also promotes the all-round development of China. As is known to all in China the four generations of the Chinese leaders concentrates on different themes : Chairman Mao contributes to build a united and independent country; Deng Xiaoping concentrates on the economic development of China, Chairman Jing Zemin made great important contributions to the stability of China, while Chairman Hu Jintao further promote the all-round scientific development of China.

iv. Power relations in the image
Slightly unequal.
This cover shows a slight unequal power relation between China and the African countries. First, we can see Hu Jintao from the front, and his face can be seen clearly, but we can see only the profile of the African leaders.
Second, President Hu seems to be in a higher position, which makes him bigger and taller than his counterpart, while the African leader poses in the subordinating position, which is lower. But as the two leaders are hugged together, and both of them are smiling, it conveys a sense of harmony and friendliness.

v. Kind of communication

vi . Nature of relation between “China” and "others"
Chairman Hu Jintao and the leader of an African country are smiling and hugged each other, which implies the friendly cooperation between the two countries, conveying a sense of harmony and friendliness.

3. Additional comments
i. Images/colors, etc

ii. Group of images
It belongs to the group of images with political leaders. Compared with the older leaders (such as Mao) who are often used to symbolize nowadays China, this reflects reality.

iii. Comment about supporting image

iv. Comments about heading
The headline of the cover is “China's march into Africa”. The subject of the sentence is “China” which is highlighted by red color. So “China” becomes the visual center. The phrase of “March into” is usually used to describe the action of troops with powerful strength. But this phrase is used here to describe the action of China, which strengthen that China is very powerful and is expanding; and the African countries are vulnerable and left passively.
This heading is quite contrary to the picture. If combing the heading and the cover image, there is another meaning that the friendliness between China and African countries is deceptive, and there is purpose for China’s building of the friendly relation with African countries.

4. Rating of cover image
Very open to dialogue.
However, only from the picture. The two are embracing each other and is smiling, but the text indicate that China is like a military army, marching into Africa.

5. Other comments

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Rating categories:
1. Hostile: An image that portrays China as impossible to have a dialogue with.
2. Not open to dialogue: An image that portrays China in a way where it is possible, but not likely, to have a dialogue.
3. Neutral: An image that does not say anything about the possibility for dialogue
4. Open to dialogue: An image that portrays China in a way where there is an openness to dialogue.
5. Very open to dialogue: An image that portrays China in a way where there is an active interest in a dialogue.