China’s TikTok diplomacy

Mohamed El Aassar outlines a soft-sell media strategy to woo Middle East

The World Today
2 minute READ

Mohamed El Aassar

Middle East and North Africa specialist, BBC Monitoring

Over the past decade, China has quietly laid the foundations of an effective communication strategy in the Middle East where it previously exercised limited soft power.

With the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the carefully built influence operation clicked into gear, as Beijing rushed well-publicized aid deliveries to support struggling healthcare systems across the region.

China’s media strategy exploits several opportunities to achieve its goals: anti-western sentiment in the Middle East, some cultural similarities such as respect for elders, admiration for China’s rapid development and even Islamic rhetoric.

Broadly, the goals are to break the West’s media monopoly, export China’s model of social control and centralized modernization, and undermine the United States as a diplomatic and military power in the region while ensuring a steady supply of energy.

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