Image of China in Slovakia: ambivalence, adoration, and fake news

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The paper looks into the image of China in Slovakia. Following the period of relative disinterest of the media in majority of topics connected with China, media are starting to pay increasingly more attention towards China and various aspects of its development, domestic policy, and foreign affairs. Increased media coverage of China begs to ask the question what image of China the Slovak media are presenting to the public. The proposed article draws upon an extensive database of media pieces published or broadcasted by Slovak newspapers, TV stations, radios, as well as online media outlets in the period of 2010–2017. Using the method of qualitative content analysis, a selection of over 2600 media pieces are analyzed and coded for general sentiments and themes covered in the media. Secondly, the paper also analyzes the perception of China among Slovak political elites, drawing on interviews with key stakeholders among the most important political parties, as well as public perception based on several opinion surveys. The article concludes that while negative perception of China prevails in the media and among the public, it is not complex and prone to change. On the level of political parties, three distinct groups exist, defined by their levels of pragmatism and pro-China positions (pragmatic supporters, ideological supporters, and ideological opponents).

Journal: Asia Europe Journal

Author: Matej Šimalčík

DOI: 10.1007/s10308-021-00597-4

Cover photo: Office of the President of the Slovak Republic

  • Matej Šimalčík’s research looks at China’s economic and political presence and ‎influence in Central Europe, elite relations as well as the role of European legal ‎instruments in dealing with China. ‎ He has a background in law (Masaryk University) and international relations (University ‎of Groningen). ‎ Since April 2021, Matej is as a visiting EU China Policy Fellow at Mercator ‎Institute for China Studies (MERICS). He is also a fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society of ‎Great Britain and Ireland and a contributor to the European Think-tank Network on ‎China (ETNC) and MapInfluenCE initiatives.‎ Previously, he was an in-house legal counsel at the Slovak branch of Transparency ‎International, a global anti-corruption watchdog, where he focused on promoting ‎transparency and countering corruption in the judiciary, legal tools for countering ‎corruption (freedom of information laws, whistleblowing, etc.), and strategic litigation ‎in public interest cases. He also practices law in Slovakia, where he focuses mostly on ‎competition, compliance, and administrative litigation.‎