An analysis of framing in British news media representations of China and the Chinese

2011-06-15T08:37:30Z (GMT) by Miao He
At the beginning of the twenty-first century, with China’s remarkable success in economic developments and greater openness to the outside world, two sharply opposing views of China have appeared in the Western perception of China - a rising superpower as well as a threat to the West, economically, militarily and environmentally. The West, particularly the US and Britain fears that China is likely to take advantage of its growing economic and geopolitical influence in order to change the world’s power pattern. Within such a social context, this thesis sets out to explore if the old concepts of Orientalism on China has ever changed in modern times and how the modern images China and the Chinese are framed in the contemporary British news media. It is carried out through four cases – Chinese migration, Hong Kong handover (1997), Tibet issue and Sichuan Great Earthquake (2008). More specifically, the thesis examines: how the two dominating masterframes – ethno-nationalist and liberal individualist masterframes coexist or compete with each other in the reporting; and what the differences are between newspapers in terms of frame choice and the ratio of struggle between two frames. The study implies that the old Orientalist stereotypes, such as ‘Yellow Peril’, which were used to describe China and the Chinese have not often appeared in the recent British news media representations in the selected four cases. Instead, the liberal individualist views have been widely and deeply embedded in the British news reporting, criticising China being essentially a Communist dictatorship as opposed to Western democracy. Additionally, the relations between two masterframes appear in three forms – coexistence or intertwining, supporting each other, and struggle.