Graduate School
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Dr Hermanno Ndenguino-Mpira

Home country: Gabon

Year of enrolment: 2010

Graduation date: December 2013

Department:  General Linguistics

Supervisor: Prof Christine Anthonissen

Co-Supervisor: Dr Johann Oosthuizen

Dissertation title: Interrogating China's approach to relations with sub-Saharan African in official documents (2000-2010) through critical discourse analysis.

​Abstract: China's rise as an economic superpower has had important consequences for its relations with African countries over the past 10-15 years. Not only were these relations thoroughly reviewed and significantly increased, but China also adopted a new cooperation policy that its administration describes as being based on mutual benefits and win-win economic collaboration. However, there is a sceptical public opinion in Africa and also in some developed countries about China's current engagement with African countries, and in particular with countries from the sub-Saharan region. In fact, China is frequently accused of acting as a new colonizing power and of increasing its relations with African countries simply as a strategy to achieve higher power-politics status and to structure a new global economic order. The present study addresses the question of whether China's official discourse about its relations with sub-Saharan African countries from 2000 to 2010 contains any grounds for the sceptical public opinion mentioned above. In more concrete terms, the main objective of the study is to determine from a linguistic perspective, and more specifically from a critical discourse analysis point of view, whether there are any overt or covert messages of power and ideology in China's discourse to sub-Saharan African countries which could justify the sceptical public opinion about China's current engagement in this part of the continent . The texts representing China's discourse about its relations with sub-Saharan African countries that are examined for this study comprise official speeches, statements, and other related official documents delivered by Chinese officials in the period 2000-2010, and published in English on the websites of various institutions, including China's official websites. These texts are examined from within the framework of the Discourse-Historical Approach (DHA) as set out by, specifically, Wodak (2001a). The texts are analysed using the DHA three-dimensional procedure consisting of (i) identifying the Content(s) and Topic(s) of the specific discourse, (ii) investigating the discursive strategies used in the specific texts, and (iii) analysing the linguistic means and the specific context-dependent linguistic realizations. On the one hand, the analysis of the Discourse Topics indicates that the relations between China and sub-Saharan African countries are grounded in China's pluralist approach to international affairs. From this perspective, then, it could be argued that China's current engagement in sub-Saharan Africa does not warrant the sceptical public opinion mentioned earlier. On the other hand, however, the analysis of the discursive strategies used to represent China and sub-Saharan African countries, indicates that such sceptisism is likely warranted. The relations between China and African countries have predominantly been investigated from economic and political perspectives. However, the manner in which these relations are expressed, implied, negotiated, interpreted, distributed, etc. in discourse has not yet received any systematic attention. The present study was therefore undertaken to contribute, from a linguistic perspective, to the knowledge of and the debate about China's current engagement in Africa.

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