UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

China goes global : a history of Xinhua News Agency’s international expansion from 1978 to 1989 Ren, Elizabeth Wu


This thesis examines how the Communist Party of China (CCP) aimed to establish global media networks through Xinhua News Agency from 1978 to 1989. As China’s central news agency and the highest level of Party-state media, Xinhua was uniquely positioned as the CCP’s mouthpiece and intersection between national media, foreign affairs, and global news. This work focuses on Xinhua’s shift from expanding into the Global South, specifically in Southeast Asia and Central-West Africa, to exploring partnerships with industrialized nations like South Korea. This shift was due to Xinhua’s strategic division of the ‘globe’ into regions that supported its goals to become a world news agency and fulfill the CCP’s political objectives. Xinhua’s globalization came at the heels of the CCP’s reinstitution of “reform and opening” in 1978. This not only re-introduced policies of economic modernization and international re-engagement, but also a new conceptualization of the ‘news’ and news agencies in geopolitical affairs. Namely, Xinhua played a crucial role in this period as the news agency’s disaggregation of the Global South actively worked to achieve its ambitions to transform from a state-run national news agency to a world news agency. This thesis provides a more nuanced understanding into how China saw and defined the region of the “Global South” and contributes to the existing scholarship on South-South connections and China’s own globalization. By situating the CCP’s transformation of Xinhua within this global frame, it shows how Xinhua’s development was not achieved within a historical vacuum. Instead, this research not only demonstrates how the CCP’s goals from 1978 to 1989 are still relevant today, but also enables future scholarship to address broader considerations into how media serves different interest groups within world history and contemporary politics.

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