Vol. 1 No. 4 (2020)
Research Articles

News Framing of the China’s Belt and Road Initiative: A Media Analysis

Salman Bahoo
Department of Economics and Statistics, University of Udine, Italy & School of Business and Law, University of Agder, Norway
Ilan Alon
School of Business and Law, University of Agder, Norway

Published 01-12-2020


  • Media Frames,
  • The Economist,
  • The Wall Street Journal,
  • Framing Theory,
  • Belt and Road Initiative,
  • China,
  • Geopolitics,
  • Public Opinion
  • ...More

How to Cite

Bahoo, S., & Alon, I. (2020). News Framing of the China’s Belt and Road Initiative: A Media Analysis. Nordic Journal of Media Management, 1(4), 495–525. https://doi.org/10.5278/njmm.2597-0445.6325


Purpose: Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) became international media headline news as a vision of China which was presented by Xi Jinping back in 2013. The policy actors of China, US, Western, and BRI partnering countries formulate a positive or negative public opinion about BRI through media. This article addresses the questions of how journalists are framing the BRI? What is the headline tone of journalists about BRI? Is international business media and journalists biased towards BRI?

Methodology: A qualitative media framing analysis of the articles published in two newspapers, The Wall Street Journal (N=68) and The Economist (N=32) during the period of January 2012 to June 2019 was conducted.

Findings: Articles from both business journals revealed that journalists cover BRI in three frames; (1) BRI: overview and economic development; (2) geopolitics under BRI, which sub-divided in four frames, (i) geopolitics: BRI and the United State of America, (ii) geopolitics: BRI and Europe, (iii) geopolitics: BRI and Africa, (iv) geopolitics: BRI and Asia; and (3) BRI and world order. The analysis also indicated that international business media is neutral, and journalists interpret, present, and exemplify official statements, reports, political views, and events about BRI.

Implications: The authors consider the implications of the study for international business practitioners who follow these business newspapers. Further, the application of media communication theories could open a new field of research for international business researchers with future practical implications related to projects, products, and business models.