BioMaria Repnikova is a scholar of political communication in illiberal contexts, with a focus on Chinese media politics. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Global Communication and a Director of the Center for Global Information Studies at Georgia State University. Maria's work examines critical journalism, political propaganda, cyber nationalism, and global media branding in China, drawing some comparisons to Russia. Her work appeared in the China Quarterly, New Media & Society, Journal of Contemporary China, as well as in Foreign Affairs and Foreign Policy, amongst other venues. Her book, Media Politics in China: Improvising Power Under Authoritarianism, is just out with Cambridge University Press. In the past, Maria was a post-doctoral fellow at the Annenberg School for Communication. Maria holds a PhD in Politics from Oxford University, where she was a Rhodes Scholar.
With China’s emergence as a superpower, policy discussions and scholarly analyses have cautioned against the Beijing Consensus or a new China-led global illiberal order. This book-length study is the first attempt at empirically examining these warnings through the cultural prism of China’s soft power efforts—the telling of the China story in official media, diplomatic initiatives, and educational exchanges. This project asks how the China story is being narrated and transmitted to other non-democratic states, and how it is being received by official actors, media and societal groups. It thereby interrogates the extent of China’s promotion of its distinct model of political and economic governance, and how China is being imagined, explained and negotiated in diverse authoritarian contexts. Specifically, this project examines the making of China’s global image through a unique comparison of Russia, Kazakhstan and Ethiopia—three cases featuring the convergence of authoritarianism, communist legacies, and long-standing economic and political ties with China, and a divergence in the range of challenges they present for China’s soft power pursuits. The book reveals the similarities and differences in China’s story telling in these three countries. It looks at the communication and cultural tools deployed, as well as how domestic publics, namely public opinion makers interpret China’s role as a “senior partner” and China as a potential model to emulate.