Evaluating Mediated Public Diplomacy Contest Between China and United States Over Huawei Technologies in the Arab World: Examination of the CGTN, Aljazeera, Al- Arabiya and Al-Hurra Via In-Depth Analysis of Social Media


Advanced new technologies have driven the globe to rapid economic, political, cultural and social change, whilst old rivals China and the United State play crucial roles in reshaping global public attitudes through implementation of strategic communication within mediated public diplomacy, thereby to advance and challenge foreign polices objectives particularly China’s BRI initiative and Huawei advanced technologies (5G) within the context of their recent trade war.

Current study aims to address the mediated public diplomacy contest between China and the United States concerning the promotion of their international-frame building to the Arab world over recently inflamed trade tensions, specifically the case of Huawei technologies. In addition, to explore the salience transfer of issues and attributes of U.S. and Chinese governments public relations messages and international-frame building through the most popular and influential Arab international broadcasters: Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya.

Significantly, this study intends to measure the favourability and visibility of Chinese and American international frame-building within Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya news coverage of Huawei technologies on one hand, then to expose Arab public opinion on Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya social media platforms with the other. The success or failure of mediated public diplomacy efforts can have direct consequences that concern global public opinion (Manheim, 1994).

Thereafter, theorizing of mediated public diplomacy as “an approach that concentrated on government efforts to shape and effect it’s framing in the global news media” (Entman, 2008). Theoretical framework of current research has conceptualized mediated public diplomacy based upon the latest comprehensive definition provided by (Golan, 2019): “Mediated public diplomacy refers to the organized attempts by governments to influence foreign public opinion via mediated channels including paid, earned, owned and shared media for the purpose of gaining support for its foreign policy objectives”.

Systematically, methodology of the current study has applied Entman’s (2004) definition of framing: “selecting and highlighting some facets of events or issues, and making connections among them so as to promote a particular interpretation, evaluation, and solution”. By operationalizing framing content analysis of political public relations messages of Chinese and U.S. Governments via state-owned international broadcast news directed to the Arab world; CGTN-Arabic and Al-Hurra plus Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya from May 15th 2019, Trump having imposed a ban upon Huawei technologies, until Trump’s declaration to decline restrictions upon Huawei technologies and continue negotiations, June 29th 2019.

For the purpose of revealing Arab public opinion, the author conducted in-depth analysis of social media through application of sentiment analysis: Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya’s YouTube user comments during media coverage of the Huawei technology dispute between China and the United States. Comments were collected and analysed using YouTube comments scraper software.

The key findings indicate that China’s coverage has been seen as more favorable than the United States, to Arab public opinion.

Keywords: Mediated Public Diplomacy, Trade War, International Framing Contest, Social Media, Strategic Communication