In order to clarify to what extent cultural interactions in African-Chinese relations create a “soft“ influence on new development concepts and how China presents itself by means of public diplomacy to African audiences, the project investigates Confucius Institutes in South Africa. Other than negative media reports suggest, Confucius Institutes act less political. Moreover, it seems inaccurate to describe them as an instrument of China’s policy of expansion. Confucius Institutes adapt themselves to local circumstances in Africa and communicate a rather selective picture of China which normally focuses on traditional notions of culture (calligraphy, tea ceremony) and tends to blind out current political and societal issues.
For Africans, Confucius Institutes are a major option to purify their university degrees and thereby to increase their chances on the job market. In this regard, China is a major option for students of African Confucius Institutes as a destination to study and work. Precisely this option is of interest because in China, it becomes obvious whether and how Confucius Institutes prepare their students for such a stay abroad.