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Contemporary China and Its Historical and Global Context: Beyond the Headlines Guobin Yang July 1, 2013 East-West Center. Opportunities and challenges in studying contemporary China II. China and the World in Modern History III . How to go beyond media headlines ? Examples.

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slide1

Contemporary China and Its Historical and Global Context: Beyond the Headlines

Guobin Yang

July 1, 2013

East-West Center

slide2

Opportunities and challenges in studying contemporary China

II. China and the World in Modern History

III. How to go beyond media headlines? Examples

slide5

Media and Blogs on China

  • http://digital-china.blogspot.ie/2013/06/china-on-web.html
slide7

Tendency of American students to see things in black and white, either / or and difficulty in understanding contradictions, ambivalences, and regional differences

e.g. typical question of whether an NGO can promote democracy in China

why, among college students, negative perception of government and yet eager to have a government job?

why internet culture so lively while internet is controlled?

slide8

…and similar tendency among Chinese when it comes to understanding the US:

e.g. SixQuestions Chinese People Like to Ask Americans

slide9

Kleinman et al (2011)

“surface China”:

Government policies, institutions, market activities

“deep China”:

emotional and moral experiences of millions of Chinese, e.g. the notion of the person

slide10

Why can copycat behavior in China be a form of creativity and subversion?

Understanding “copycat China”?

slide11

II.

China and the world in modern history

1793Macartney mission to Qing court and Emperor Qianlong’s letter to King George III

1839-1842 First Opium War and cession of Hong Kong to Queen Victoria

slide12

Late 19th – early 20th century

Anti-imperialism and national strengthening through introduction of Western learning and technology

Republican Revolution of 1911 and fall of Qing dynasty

New Culture Movement, Introduction of Marxism, and Founding of the CCP in 1921

slide13

Founding of PRC in 1949 and Cold War

US strategy of “peaceful evolution” spelled out by Secretary of State John Dulles in 1958 and 1959: “Russian and Chinese Communists are not working for the welfare of their people,” “this kind of communism will change.”

Mao convinced the American strategy was taking effect in the Soviet Union.

slide14

In the Cultural Revolution

Third Worldism and anti-imperialism

slide15

In the 1980s

Reform and liberalization: Westernization

Since 1990s:

Liberal vs. left views differ

Popular nationalism vs. political dissidence

slide16

Western perceptions of China

  • Perception of the threat of China’s rise
slide17

Based on studies of articles about China in Time, Newsweek and US News and World Report from Jan 1984 to Dec 1988 and from Jan 1995 to Dec 1999, finds:

US media changed significantly in both reporting volume of subcategory areas and attitudes about China before and after the former Soviet Union’s breakup.

Stories during the pre-breakup period depicted China as a prosperous developing country with good relationships with other countries but an oppressive Communist nation domestically.

In post-breakup period, China was depicted as an even more domestically oppressive nation, and one with strained relationships with the US.

China coverage in the three magazines was much more negative after the breakup than before (Stone and Xiao 2007)

slide23

Role of Western media in depictions of China

  • Role of “Chinese sources” in shaping Western views of China: e.g. dissidents, English-language memoirs of Chinese Cultural Revolution
slide25

1.

Leslie T. Chang: The voices of China's workers

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2.

Ruben GonzalezVicente, “Mapping Chinese Mining Investment in Latin America: Politics or Market?” (2012) The China Quarterly, 209, 35-58.

“Academic research and media coverage tend to emphasize what is new and disruptive about China’s growing engagement in the global economy. Convergence, “socialization” and internationalization are more easily overlooked.”

slide27

Interested in criteria that guide Chinese FDI.

Is Chinese FDI more likely to go to authoritarian states?

Do Chinese firms antagonize the purportedly high

social and environmental mining standards of Western companies?

slide28

Findings:

Chinese mining investment in Latin America and worldwide gravitates towards liberal economies.

China’s overseas mineral quest better explained by corporate strategies than by China’s geostrategic agenda of natural resource extraction

slide30

Why Peru?

“Peru’s liberal mining regime and its location

in the Pacific Rim are undoubtedly attractive to Chinese firms, but equally important is the history of Chinese investment in the country prior to the 2000s. Shougang Corporation became the first Chinese SOE to undertake an

overseas mining project when it acquired the Marcona mine in Peru as early as 1992.”

slide31

“You need to understand Chinese culture … The main reason why there are more and more Chinese companies in Peru is because of Shougang. Nobody wants to be the first to arrive to a country. If there are more Chinese people and companies already there, this will attract others who will find it easier.”

– manager of Chinese mining company in Peru

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Analysis of Chinese mining firms in Peru shows China’s overseas mineral quest best explained by probing into the integrated strategies of individual mining firms which seek to capitalize their comparative advantage in accessing Chinese markets and the political momentum of the “Going Out” strategy.

  • Failure of earlier companies due to lack of understanding of local non-market factors
  • Success of others which try to adapt to local conditions (e.g. keeping local staff)
slide33

Conclusions:

  • Market risk and opportunity are the main criteria determining Chinese mining investment allocation.
  • Chinese firms benefit from specific polices of the Chinese government, but this is not uniquely Chinese. It can be compared to the benefits that American firms receive at times to invest in countries allied to the US
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Chinese FDI not that much different from Western FDI.

  • Evidence of China’s integration into world rather than aberration
slide35

3.

How are goods Made in China described in mainstream media? What goods most likely to be reported?

slide36

Amy Hanser (2012), ”Yellow peril consumerism: China, North America, and an era of global trade.” Ethnic and Racial Studies, Volume 36, Issue 4, 2013.

Explores parallel between ‘yellow peril’ imagery of

pollution &danger used to characterize China historically and that found in contemporary media accounts representing Chinese-made goods in USA.

Based on survey of reporting on two key events involving Chinese imports (pet food and toys) in 3 largest circulating newspapers in US

slide37

Two arguments:

1) Shows in an era of ‘free trade’ and accelerated globalization, how global movement of goods serves as powerful bearer of racializing categories in the terrain of American consumerism and domesticity.

2) Media narratives about consumer welfare and the threatened American consumer provide moral anchor for larger story about US national interest and ‘proper’ capitalism in the context of China’s ‘rise’.

slide38

In the earlier period, China was perceived as a global threat largely through its people, who imperiled

the quality and civility of populations in places like North America through what was feared would be ‘droves’ of immigrants.

Past ‘fears of contagion’ associated with Chinese bodies find echoes in contemporary discourses about China. Today, racializedanxieties about physical proximity are produced through the intimacies of global trade, as ‘China Made’ goods enter the homes of American consumers.

slide39

Lead’s centrality is especially clear with the second wave of recalls from Mattel, when the toy company recalled close to 1,000,000 toy cars coated with lead paint but over 18,000,000 toys fitted with dangerous magnets. Although the magnet problem was clearly a Mattel design flaw, the title of The NewYorkTimes article on the recall implies Chinese responsibility: ‘Mattel Recalls 19 Million Toys Sent From China’ (NYT8/15/07, p. A1)

slide42

Chinese-language Twitter activism

A small group of activists in China

Dissidents in exile

Western journalists

Unorganized, but networked

A “permanent campaign”

Citizen journalism as activism

High visibility

slide43

Radical, subversive discourse

Twitter chats with Dala Lama

Petition to award Nobel Peace prize to dissident Liu Xiaobo

Artist-activist Ai Weiwei’s repeated efforts to challenge state policing by organizing public dinner parties through Twitter

Numerous petitions in support of harassed or arrested human rights activists

Calls for the overthrow of the current Chinese regime

slide44

International political opportunity:

  • 1. A global discourse on human rights provides legitimacy (Padovani, Musiani, and Pavan 2010)
  • Global discourse on freedom of speech & communication rights, including discourse on internet freedom.
  • E.g. Google white paper “Enabling Trade in the Era of Information Technologies: Breaking Down Barriers to the Free Flow of Information”
slide45

Expansion of institutional support for human rights activism.

  • a) international institutions such as UN human rights treaty bodies
  • b) growing # of international human rights NGOs (Tsutsui and Wotipka 2004)
  • c) use of international diplomacy by nation-states to champion human rights activists in other nations
  • d) international human rights prizes as mechanism of promoting human rights causes.
slide46

Sample international prizes for Chinese activists:

European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought (given to Hu Jia in 2008)

Deutsche Welle’s International Weblog Awards (to blogger-lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan in 2008)

“Courage in Journalism” Award given by International Women’s Media Foundation (to Tibetan blogger-activist TseringWoeser in 2010),

Palmarès prize of the French National Consultative Commission on Human Rights (to blogger BeiFeng, 2010)

Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo in 2010.

slide47

Global media and Chinese blogger-activists:

November 18, 2010

LexisNexis newspaper database

key word search for “blogger” in The New York Times.

Then searched within results for “China.”

Yields 86 results.

First was published December 19, 2004,

Last published on October 31, 2010.

slide48

49 of the 86 articles are stories about China (the other 37 only mentioned China).

These 49 stories mentioned or cited 39 Chinese bloggers by name.

12 of them are mentioned in more than one story.

5 are featured.

In addition, the stories frequently cite anonymous bloggers as their sources, such as “a blogger,” “one liberal Chinese blogger,” “a China-based blogger,” “a popular Beijing blogger,” “bloggers who tread too often into delicate territory,” and “an anonymous blogger.”