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Architecture of “Stadium diplomacy” – China-aid sport buildings in Africa


Year published: 2019
Categories: Journal Article

Author / Authors:

  • Charlie Q.L. Xue
  • Guanghui Ding
  • Wei Chang; Yan Wan


In the past 60 years, China has constructed over 1,400 buildings in the developing world, many of them stadiums. This study examines how China uses stadiums as diplomatic means to demonstrate its cultural, economic and socio-political engagement in less-developed nations. To address the Chinese economic, cultural and intellectual intervention, this article uses three representative stadium projects built in Africa as case studies. Firstly providing physical venue for sports activities and then creating institutional network for further economic, cultural and political engagement, the Chinese built stadiums became effective catalyst for enhancing bilateral relations between China and the receipt countries. China's stadium diplomacy revealed a soft, and ultimately progressive mode of cultural engagement in transnational architectural practice. The authors argue that the implication of this architectural engagement lies in the fact that the Chinese state played a mediating role in producing and delivering architectural forms with various political motivations. Notwithstanding, the involved architects and engineers took the cultural and technical challenges and experimented adaptable design in aid projects.

Habitat International,
(Available online 17 June 2019)


  • Journal Article