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Title: Leveraging Chinese economic presence in the post-lockdown Ghanaian market space and the growth of China's public relations and diplomacy

Authors: Thomas Ameyaw-Brobbey

Addresses: Centre for African and International Studies, University of Cape Coast, Cape Coast, Ghana

Abstract: Recent research indicates that the COVID-19 pandemic has deeply affected the socioeconomic life of people in sub-Saharan Africa. Consequently, the paper's purpose is to explore how the economically bottom-class citizens in Ghana - small-scale vendors - are navigating themselves out of their predicaments. Using a mixed method, I combined a structured questionnaire with unstructured interviews to collect data and examined 384 small-scale vendors in four urban centres with content analysis and SPSS descriptive statistics. I find that Ghanaian small-scale vendors are leveraging the Chinese economic presence in the Ghanaian market space to navigate themselves from the negative impacts the pandemic brought on their socioeconomic life. I argue that China's international image-building effort is growing and achieving desired outcomes in Ghana as a result of pegging economic engagement as a soft power resource. The economic engagements may further Chinese public relations and diplomacy - transforming Chinese cultural assets into soft power. I base the theoretical argument on the new public diplomacy framework.

Keywords: Ghana; China; COVID-19 pandemic; China's economic/business presence; living standard and poverty; small-scale vendors and low-income earners; new public diplomacy; Ghanaian market space; soft power; public relations and image building.

DOI: 10.1504/IJDIPE.2023.128801

International Journal of Diplomacy and Economy, 2023 Vol.9 No.1, pp.57 - 80

Received: 19 Jul 2022
Accepted: 07 Sep 2022

Published online: 06 Feb 2023 *

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