Loughborough University
B615217_Thesis.pdf (1.95 MB)

China’s projection of ‘soft power’: media events, personalisation, and domestication in the era of Xi Jinping

Download (1.95 MB)
posted on 2020-07-03, 08:47 authored by Weili Wang
Global media events attract large audiences providing an international stage for host states to promote their interests, this study considers global events as vital platforms for China to exercise soft power. By exercising soft power via global media events China can fulfil its national agenda through attraction and persuasion rather than utilising hard power such as military might and economic measures which are costly, and sometimes risky. Using content analysis and critical discourse analysis this study assesses how selected newspapers from four English-speaking western states – Australia, Canada, United Kingdom and United States – domesticate media events in which China is a key participant. It assesses to what extent they reproduced China’s intended message in which is observable in The People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of the Communist Party of China. Personalisation has become a feature in many political systems around the world. China is no exception. Since President Xi Jinping took office in 2013, his distinct personal traits, especially as a man of the people, have dominated media coverage of him and of the CPC and China more broadly. This thesis considers how the personalisation of President Xi Jinping features in the performance of soft power. This thesis brings the concepts of soft power, media events and personalisation in order to examine how China projects and performs soft power in an international context.
Three empirical chapters each take a single global media event which China hosted or participated in the era of Xi Jinping: Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to the UK in 2015, G20 Hangzhou Summit in 2016, and the military parade for Commemoration of Chinese People’s Resistance against Japanese Aggression and World Anti-Fascist War in 2015. The findings show that China’s soft power messages are conveyed through these events but that they received different interpretations in different states and among various media sources. The findings suggest that the media’s perception of national interest, domestication in global news production, political alignment of media, and the relationship China has established with elites of other states, are key factors which influence how China, its national interest and motivations are represented in different media sources. The findings suggest that China’s soft power aims to target both domestic and foreign audiences. This thesis contributes to the understanding of the relationship between China’s projection of soft power and media coverage in the contemporary era of Xi Jinping.



  • Social Sciences


  • Communication, Media, Social and Policy Studies


Loughborough University

Rights holder

© Weili Wang

Publication date



A doctoral thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.


  • en


John Downey ; Emily Keightley

Qualification name

  • PhD

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

This submission includes a signed certificate in addition to the thesis file(s)

  • I have submitted a signed certificate

Usage metrics

    Communication and Media Theses


    Ref. manager