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The Rise of China: media perception and implications for international politics
Li Zhang

Online publication date: 01 March 2010

To cite this Article Zhang, Li(2010) 'The Rise of China: media perception and implications for international politics',

Journal of Contemporary China, 19: 64, 233 — 254 To link to this Article: DOI: 10.1080/10670560903444199 URL:

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Journal of Contemporary China (2010), 19(64), March, 233–254

The Rise of China: media perception and implications for international politics
Downloaded By: [The University of Western Australia] At: 05:27 29 October 2010

In recent years, the rise of China as an emerging great power has been widely perceived across the world. How has the rise of China been represented over time in the Western news media? Has the image of China as a rising power had any impact on the country’s soft power? These questions remain unanswered but answering them is of great significance in helping us understand the impact of the news media on the transformation of international politics in the information age. This paper conducts a longitudinal study to examine the nature of Chinese coverage and explores how the image of a rising China—economically, politically, regionally and globally—has been represented in three transnational newspapers in Europe. It further argues that the Western media coverage of China’s rise is as a soft power, which, to some extent, has an impact upon China’s foreign relations.

Introduction In the information age, the nature of power, as argued by Professor Nye of Harvard University, is changing. The importance of soft power—the ability to get others to want the outcomes that you want through attraction rather than coercion—has been widely noted in international politics.1 Soft power is the power of attraction. Attractiveness is embedded in what is called a nation’s ‘brand’. The basic assumption is that territorial entities such as countries, regions and cities can now be branded like companies and products.2 Nation branding stresses the mobilization of all of a nation’s forces that can contribute to the promotion of its image (‘country image’) abroad.3 The image of a country, said Anholt, determines the way in which the world sees it and treats it.4

* Li Zhang is a research fellow in the China Policy Institute, School of Contemporary Chinese Studies at the University of Nottingham, UK. She holds a Ph.D. in Communications Studies from the University of Leeds, UK. Her research interests include media and politics, communication and governance, news management and public diplomacy, and EU-Asia relations. 1. Joseph S. Nye, Soft Power: The Means to Success in International Politics (New York: Public Affairs, 2004). 2. Peter Van Ham, ‘Place branding: the state of the art’, The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 616, (2008), pp. 126–149 at p. 128. 3. Jan Melissen, ‘The new public diplomacy: between theory and practice’, in Jan Melissen, ed., The New Public Diplomacy: Soft Power in International Relations (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), pp. 3 –27 at p. 19. 4. Simon Anholt, Brand New Justice: How Branding Places and Products Can Help the Developing World (Oxford: Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann, 2005), p. 105. ISSN 1067-0564 print/ 1469-9400 online/10/640233–22 q 2010 Taylor & Francis DOI: 10.1080/10670560903444199

Destination Branding: Creating the Unique Destination Proposition (Oxford: Butterworth Heinemann. 8. Brand New Justice. (29 December 2005). This paper discusses the news media and China’s national image as well as the relationship between the news media and policy-making before going on to examine the nature of Western media coverage of China. 94–109 at p.7 They help to build the image of a particular country. ‘The rise of China’s soft power’. international cooperator and autonomous actor.9 For instance. 2007). news media and foreign relations together and make a contribution to this area through investigating the Western media coverage of China’s rise and its implications for China’s foreign relations. Nye. ‘China’s problem is more complex than whether or not its national image is “good” or “bad”. It then investigates the role of the media coverage of a rising China image in transforming China’s international relations. China views herself as a peace-loving nation. Nigel Morgan.LI ZHANG Downloaded By: [The University of Western Australia] At: 05:27 29 October 2010 In an article for the Wall Street Journal Asia in 2005. is largely absent. pointed out that ‘China’s greatest strategic threat today is its national image’.8 Empirical evidence of how a nation’s brand—its soft power—can actually transform its foreign relations. Joseph S. Nye. 2001).6 The news media act as referees for the credibility or legitimacy of soft power resources and as important instruments for branding the nation in public diplomacy. Even though the importance of a country’s soft power has been noted in the postmodern age. (2003). The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 616. Anholt. Annette Pritchard and Roger Pride. many practical questions about the power of attraction in international politics are still unanswered. Nye. pp. 10. 234 . 46 –72. 9. Where does the perception come from? What part has the news media played in it? How has the rise of China been represented in the news media? Has the media coverage of China as a rising power had any impact on the country’s soft power? These questions remain unanswered but answering them is of great significance in helping us to understand the impact of the news media on the transformation of international politics in the information age. an obstructive force and an authoritarian state. even though at this stage it is still far from being America’s equal. 6. but hinges on a more difficult puzzle: China’s image of herself and other nations’ views of her are out of alignment’. pp. China has gradually engaged the international political and economic systems. but people in another country may think exactly the opposite: China is a militant. 7. Joshua Cooper Ramo. p. but also on whose story wins’. During the last two decades. Joseph S. 4. Joshua Cooper Ramo. Wall Street Journal Asia. Brand China (London: Foreign Policy Centre.10 To tackle such a discrepancy. This paper tries to link soft power. ‘The new public diplomacy’. ‘Public diplomacy and soft power’. In his opinion. Soft Power. China: An International Journal 1(1). the Chinese government 5. ‘National image building and Chinese foreign policy’.5 He pointed out that ‘Success depends not only on whose army wins. a Western analyst of China. News media and China’s image In the report Brand China. Melissen. which is important to the country’s soft power and its international relations. (2008). 95. Nye clearly stated that China’s soft power was rising. eds. Hongying Wang. and the rise of China as an emerging great power has now been widely perceived across the world. Ibid.

identified by Nye. pp. Journal of Contemporary China 17(56). activities and stance on international issues. newspapers. students. 13. 235 . 11. in the Chinese understanding—but also the Chinese understanding of soft power and the national images which China is projecting have some impact on China’s foreign policy. through a very complex communication process involving varied information sources . China’s active participation in multilateral organizations. such as tourists. However. and even the ‘made in China’ products are obviously sources of China’s images abroad. However. 1997). ‘National image building and Chinese foreign policy’. fundamentally. People rely on the news media for information. Wang.12 In recent years. In Kunczik’s book on the relationship between the images of nations and international public relations. (2008). 425 –447. as important and popular communication tools. p. But radio and TV transmissions of international programs. both for public and elites. however right or wrong they might be. This is a mediated world. the behaviors of individual Chinese abroad. . A study shows that not only have the sources of soft power been expanded from the original three sources—culture.13 However. politically. and so on. books. 1. its neighbor policy or culture exchange activities. . particularly information on a foreign country. 12. 1. ‘The conception of soft power and its policy implications: a comparative study of China and Taiwan’. the next section uncovers the role of the news media in the process of policy-making. Soft Power. news services and so on are probably the strongest image shapers. Hongying Wang and Yeh-Chung Lu. the concept of soft power has become popular in the Chinese discourse. It conducts a longitudinal study on how the image of a rising China. Nye. seem to form [themselves]. and it is the news media that construct the world for people. Michael Kunczik. Images of Nations and International Public Relations (Mahwah. regionally and globally. has been perceived in three transnationally circulated news media across Europe and further investigates the power of media construction of a foreign country on transforming international relations through the discussion of the relationship between the media perception of China’s rise as a soft power and brand and China’s foreign relations. This paper aims at starting to fill in this blank. in this postmodern age. are widely known by people in other countries through the news media. the diplomatic style and performance of Chinese leaders. where information is power and modern communication technology is spreading information more widely than ever before. he states Images of certain nations. p. what shapes China’s image abroad? The governmental foreign policy. businessmen and officials. not much attention has been given to the news media. particularly with the European Union. NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. foreign policies and values. in wielding China’s soft power. such as the influence they might have on a foreign country’s policy-making toward China.11 I would argue that the foreign news media have become the most important providers of information on China and shape its perception abroad.THE RISE OF CHINA Downloaded By: [The University of Western Australia] At: 05:27 29 October 2010 has tried to project China’s soft power and improve the country’s image abroad. Before moving to an examination of the data and an analysis of the relationship between the media coverage and China’s foreign relations. economically.

Patrick O’Heffernan. and the structure of international affairs as the press defines it is treated by the top officials as the one which so many other people accept.LI ZHANG Media information and policy-making The news media are not only important sources of information for policy-makers. even though informal. 174 –191. The Public Opinion Quarterly 38(2). whatever the range may be.16 For example. are shaped by the press. p. W. This is because the press is usually available sooner and provides a wider range of information on issues than other information sources do. Phillips Davison. (1974). Even the members of the governmental policy-making system or diplomats cannot have direct experience of the whole range of international affairs. in particular. Studies still show that both the traditional media and the new media have provided information for decision-makers. Potter. the Internet as a new medium has developed and many people have begun to surf the Internet for information. 17. although the policy-makers in the US State Department are informed by official and unofficial internal and private networks of communication.14 Even in the age of global communication. or may even be aware of. it is a larger network of communication that helps to define for the policy maker the current political universe’. Yoel Cohen. 16. crises and elections around the world. such as official routes. Even reports about important events from diplomats stationed abroad. according to Cohen. 209 –212. Ibid. they usually turn to the press for basic factual information about the international political world. ed. channels of communication for decision-makers within different branches of the government and for diplomats between governments. Media Diplomacy: The Foreign Office in the Mass Communications Age (London: Frank Cass.19 Simply put. Furthermore. ‘News media and international negotiation’. 18.. pp. 19.15 The evidence in Bernard Cohen’s study suggested that foreign policy makers typically take more out of the press than any one of them readily admits to. Cyber-diplomacy: Managing Foreign Policy in the Twenty-first Century (Montreal and London: McGill-Queen’s University Press. Downloaded By: [The University of Western Australia] At: 05:27 29 October 2010 236 . 139. pp. Ibid. NJ: Ablex. Evan H. Firstly. 14. 2002). Mass Media and American Foreign Policy: Insider Perspectives on Global Journalism and the Foreign Policy Process (Norwood. pp. as discussed above. but are also channels of communication within and between governments. 1986). this argument continues to be the case. p. Cohen.. they too rely on the mass media to make a map of the world. NJ: Princeton University Press. 208.. the news media’s ‘map-making’ function shapes the image of the political environment in which the decision on a foreign policy is made. Cohen. The Press and Foreign Policy. They play an important role in the process of policy-making. scholars decades ago found that the news media are a major information source for decision-makers. 1991). 12– 13. rather.18 In recent years.. 1963). wars. On the basis of interviews with people engaged in policy-making. Ibid. Bernard C. The Press and Foreign Policy (Princeton. the news media not only provide information about the world for top officials in different branches of government at home. but comments that ‘the prestige press is not a unique newspaper that policy makers depend on for their political intelligence. 15.17 Cohen’s book The Press and Foreign Policy stressed the role of the press in foreign policy processes. but they also provide information for diplomats abroad. the media are important. It is the news media that provide people with information about world affairs.

The agenda-setting function of the news media not only applies to the public. Secondly. France. Agendas and Instability in American Politics (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press.26 Even though some other research seems to challenge the agenda-setting paradigm. Canada. public opinion. Jean-Sebastien Rioux and David M. and Foreign Aid: A Comparative Analysis of the United States. they set the agenda of decision-makers as well. ‘News media and international negotiation’. governments make use of the mass media to find out whether other governments are interested in negotiating. Soroka. On the relations of issue priming and policymakers’ reactions to the salience of issues. Stuart N. Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics 8. 22.21 As the making of foreign policy begins with the gathering and interpreting of information about international affairs.23 Baumgartner and Jones believed that the media have great influence on US government policy. by making an issue salient. Douglas A. Ibid. Cohen. Agenda-setting (Thousand Oaks. p. ‘Media. and foreign policy’. including negotiations among the decision-makers. 179 –180. (2003). This implies that there is much scope for the news media to play a role in a policy-making process. For instance. Media Diplomacy. to reach agreed agendas and 20. Their analyses demonstrate that the salience of a recipient country in the domestic news media has a substantial influence on the levels of aid offered. bureaucracies and foreign aid in the US. Media. 175.25 Van Belle et al. Canada. 25. ´ 26. Bureaucracies. 2004).22 Then the proposals go through series of procedures to become a policy. Potter. Frank R.24 They argued that a major source of instability in American politics is the shifting attention of the media.THE RISE OF CHINA Diplomats throughout the world spend a great deal of time keeping themselves generally informed by heavily consuming the news in the press of the host country. Baumgartner and Bryan D. Dearing and Everett M. 23. Van Belle. Davis presented some evidence to show that the relationship between the news media and policy agendas at Westminster is not really according to a simple stimulus– response model on the basis of his interview with 40 Members of Parliament (MPs) in Britain. the media help to send diplomatic messages between countries. 27–48. consciously or unconsciously. and Japan (New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Soroka’s study indicates a link between the salience of foreign affairs and the increase in defense spending. to show that on some occasions. 24. pp. UK. the domestic press of their own country and also the media of a third country.20 This means that in a multi-branch or trans-national communication. 1996). he argued that politicians use the media in a variety of ways to promote or negotiate agendas and policy options among themselves and play a significant social and cultural role in helping MPs.. Rogers. their evidence also supports the idea that the news media play a significant role in the policy-making process. James W. 1993). Davison. p. the information which the media have provided become some of the bases of policy proposals made by officials to ministers. 9. 21. the United Kingdom. investigated the relationship between the media. CA: Sage. Downloaded By: [The University of Western Australia] At: 05:27 29 October 2010 237 . France and Japan. in practice. foreign policy-makers and diplomatic negotiators usually come to the discussion and negotiation with a similar knowledge of the background of an issue or a country. In contrast. Davison used the typical example of Moscow sending a signal via an American wire-service correspondent to imply that they were ready to negotiating about ending the Berlin blockade in 1948– 1949. Jones. pp.

30 Although we might not go so far as to say that media with a supranational character exist all over the (accessed 20 May 2005). (2003). 238 . Global Media Journal 5(9).28 From what has been discussed above. the media play a significant role in everything from setting agendas to policy outcomes. according to his interviews. pp. They then explore the influential factors for the changing nature of coverage and analyze the media perception. Hongshan Li and Zhaohui Hong. pp. study on the UK media: Qing Cao. Alexander Liss. it can be seen that the news media have been recognized as staple sources of information. pp. the studies are for one thing mostly conducted in one particular country. ‘Four images of China: the imagined “other” in British television documentaries’. ‘Reporting China: a critical review’. (2006). On the basis of the media content analysis. Schlesinger defined this as the European elite public sphere and argued that there are newspapers and magazines in the European media market which do self-consciously address a European (as well as 27. Perception. pp. ‘Investigating journalist influences on political issue agendas at Westminster’. They emphasize that ‘such Europeanisation of national public spheres would occur when nationally based mass media shift their focus away from the national political arena towards the European level’. (2007).29 This study moves beyond the national news media to the international arena and examines the perception of China in three transnational news media. Ibid. Qing Cao. If so. 299 –318. pp. For example. which link to the process of policy decision-making. and the Making of US–China Relations (Lanham. Quality and Quantity 32(1).wz-berlin. Image. With the process of political and economic integration in the EU. eds. ‘Images of China in the American print media: a survey from 2000 to 2002’. 47–62. 185 –186. have simply fallen into a positive or negative judgment. 181–199. 28. The centrality of the media in a potentially emerging European public sphere has been highlighted by communication and media scholars. 1998). They disseminate the behaviors of European actors and their topics and opinions. In the process of policy-making. for example the quality press. Methodology Even though there is an extensive literature on the Western image of China. the Financial Times. transnational media do exist in the European communicative space. and for another. China Media Research 3(1). MD: University Press of America. the term ‘Europeanisation’ has brought the concept of the ‘European public sphere’ to the research agenda. 8–16. They give the MPs a starting point for their day and give clues as to what issues need to be looked at further. See http://europub. The Economist and the International Herald Tribune. Aeron Davis. (2007). the news media appear to be key information sources for MPs. Journal of Contemporary China 12(35). China Media Research 2(1). (2006). (1998). 93–97. the paper moves to discuss the relationship between media coverage and China’s foreign relations. pp. as well as channels of communication within and among governments. ‘A structural analysis of the changing image of China in the New York Times from 1949 through 1988’.27 Moreover. study on the US media: Wenjie Yan. 29..LI ZHANG Downloaded By: [The University of Western Australia] At: 05:27 29 October 2010 positions. 30. in Europe from 1989 to 2005. ‘The discourse of technology in Western representation of China: a case study’. will the media coverage of China have any impact on other country’s policy-making toward China? The following sections will first explain the methodology of data collection and illustrate the findings. Political Communication 24. Qing Cao.

1998– 2002 and 2003– 2005. but dropped during the next few years.036 stories from the Financial Times (FT). the volume changes of the coverage in the three news publications can be divided into four periods: 1989 – 1992. 21 in The Economist and 48 in the IHT in the data. They consist of 1. (1) 1989– 1992. the European Voice and Le Monde Diplomatique. Findings The study collected and coded 3. 32. 263–279. The three publications were selected due to their large circulation and wide readership among European elites. (1999).004 articles in the three selected European transnational newspapers during the 17-year period under study. The study used a random sample of every 17th-day of the 17-year time span and searched keywords ‘China OR Chinese OR Beijing’ for the news articles. analysis of these sources provides a good representation of the mainstream image of China in the European public sphere. The coverage of China was high in 1989.32 Their popularity as the European transnational news media justifies them as important news outlets across Europe and therefore. pp. 31. The Economist. 1993– 1997. such as the Financial Times. this study examines the Financial Times. ‘Changing spaces of political communication: the case of the European Union’.THE RISE OF CHINA Downloaded By: [The University of Western Australia] At: 05:27 29 October 2010 a global) elite audience conceived as being composed of political and economic decision makers. the volume fluctuated with a peak in the mid-1990s and increased again during the last three years of study (Figure 1).31 Combined with the circulation and readership of some widely read transnational news media across Europe. The International Herald Tribune stories were also collected by random sample of every 17th-day with the starting date different from that of the Financial Times. but in the IHT. Political Communication 16. During this period. but as a weekly newspaper the composite month has been applied as the sample method. 239 . The volume of coverage was around 32 articles each year in the FT. The Economist stories were accessed through Lexis-Nexis as well. the Wall Street Journal. 614 from The Economist and 1. According to the data. The Economist and the International Herald Tribune coverage of China from 1989 to 2005. Change of volume The data show that the volume of media coverage of China in the FT and The Economist increased in general during the whole period from 1989 to 2005. (2) 1993–1997. The Financial Times stories were accessed through Lexis-Nexis. but the data were accessed through its microfilm version as the online versions exclude much material for copyright reasons. the preferred language being English. the volume of coverage increased and the average number of articles was double that of the first period in the FT with 66 stories. Philip Schlesinger.354 from the International Herald Tribune (IHT). The statistics of the circulation and readership of these news media are available from their websites. the International Herald Tribune.

1989– 2005.LI ZHANG Downloaded By: [The University of Western Australia] At: 05:27 29 October 2010 Figure 1. amounting to 123 stories. Therefore. 33. In order to have a better understanding of how unusual those numbers are. 34 in The Economist and 74 in the IHT. The average number of news stories was 47 in the FT. with 115 on average in the FT. the data also indicate a trend of steady increase. particularly in the FT and IHT. the study also measures the overall news volume of the three publications. 240 . 68 in 2004 and 73 in 2005 in the data.33 Change of content distribution by subject The main subjects of the Chinese news stories in the three European news media fall into 14 categories. The average number of stories in The Economist was 33 and the number in IHT was even bigger. The average number was 64 items in The Economist with 50 in 2003. The volume of coverage declined and also fluctuated during this period. which will be presented later in the paper. the growing presence of Chinese coverage in the European news media can be said to reflect the increasing interest in China by the Western world. foreign relations and world affairs. The number of news stories jumped from 68 to 108 to 170 during the three years. The findings show that the overall number of pages for news stories in the three newspapers has been relatively stable during the 17-year period under study. namely: politics and military. This indicates that the proportion of overall Chinese coverage has increased. (4) 2003–2005. The volume of coverage increased rapidly in the FT and also in The Economist. Even though the number of news stories in the IHT was not as big as that in the previous period. Volume of Chinese coverage in the European transnational media. (3) 1998–2002. The reason beneath the changing volume of the coverage in the four sub-periods can be explained from the journalistic point of view. with only an average of 59 each year.

The reason why the study singled out the handover of Hong Kong as one category instead of including it into the category of foreign relations and world affairs even before the transition is because it helps to explain the volume change of Chinese coverage from the journalistic point of view.THE RISE OF CHINA Downloaded By: [The University of Western Australia] At: 05:27 29 October 2010 economic/trade/finance and business.3%. International Economy.0% and the IHT has 3. finance and business aspect of China has drawn the most attention from the news media. Capital Markets & Commodities and Comment & Analysis. with the FT ranked at the top with 53. as well. Chinese political and military stories do not take up a large amount of space.8% in the IHT. with a similar proportion in the three news publications: 17. The statistics indicate that the economic. 35. But The Economist has a bigger proportion of political and military reports. non-business and economic in a narrow sense. in reporting the handover of Hong Kong. Placement of Chinese stories The FT divides its page into sections by subject. Overseas News. there are 34. which is presented in the next section. environment and energy and ‘other’. human rights. so that the Chinese coverage is spread around in different sections. The articles in the first half of The Economist contain general news—social. Asia/Pacific and Editorials/Opinion. However. disasters and crime. economic. this research coded the front page Chinese stories in the FT and IHT. In order to get an idea of the importance attached by the media to the Chinese stories.5% in the FT and as much as 11. respectively. Business. The Economist has 5.6% and the IHT has 5.35 Most Chinese coverage in The Economist is in the Asia.3% and 17. sport.7%. it occupies the biggest proportion of Chinese coverage overall in all three publications. the handover of Hong Kong. trade. They occupy only 3. The Britain section may appear near the front in the UK edition. science and technology preceding books and arts.0% in the IHT. occupying 9. science and technology. political. Reporting on the aspect of China’s external relations and China as an actor in regional and world affairs ranks second. Companies & Finance. in reporting the cross-Strait relations between the PRC and Taiwan. A preliminary study was conducted to identify the major topics.8%. closely followed by The Economist and the IHT. the reporting on human rights violations in China takes a larger proportion than the political and military reports in these two newspapers: 4. in reporting society and health. with 7. For example.8%. The Americas. financial.8% and The Economist has 5. Finance and Science sections. are business. putting most Chinese coverage in the sections on World Briefs.8% for its human rights reports. the FT has 5.4% in the FT and 5. apart from the Britain section.9%. diplomatic. culture/arts and education.1% in the FT.0%.2%. The front page news stories are more salient than those in the inside pages. whilst the IHT has only 4. World Politics and Current Affairs. The IHT divides its page by areas. In the FT. while the articles in the second half. Tiananmen. whilst The Economist has 5. Most Chinese coverage in the FT is in the sections on the Asia– Pacific. The Economist and the IHT.34 Figures 2 – 4 show the different aspects of China that each of the three European news media is interested in reporting. the FT has 4.0%. society and health. 241 . cross-Strait relations. whilst the FT has only 2.1%. 16. The three publications showed different interests in reporting other aspects of China.

242 . Figure 4. Figure 3. Distribution of Chinese coverage by subject in the International Herald Tribune. Distribution of Chinese coverage by subject in the Financial Times. Distribution of Chinese coverage by subject in The Economist.LI ZHANG Downloaded By: [The University of Western Australia] At: 05:27 29 October 2010 Figure 2. 1989– 2005. 1989– 2005. 1989– 2005.

there are 92 articles about China. This. If the Asian financial crisis and 243 . pay much attention to China in the period 1989 – 1992. the study explores the factors that influence the volume change from the perspective of journalistic practice. The analysis of the content of these Chinese items on the front pages and among the Leaders helps us to judge the most salient topic category of Chinese coverage in these publications. are most salient in Chinese coverage in terms of both the percentage in subject distribution and their placement in the three news publications. Meanwhile. Here. It argues that the matrix of news value regarding Chinese stories and the number of correspondents working for the foreign media are two important factors leading the changing volume of Chinese coverage. The above content analysis from the news media shows that two topic categories. in general. Media interests in these two aspects led to a jump in China reports during 1993 – 1997. occupying 9. From the news value point of view.4% of its overall Chinese coverage. The study also coded the Chinese items in the Leaders section. apart from the US and Western Europe. The media reporting shows that from 1993 the overall international climate toward China seemed to change. The content of the overall media coverage in the three news publications shows that. but the drastic events of the student demonstrations and the government crackdown drew much media attention and stimulated the coverage of China in 1989. They indicate that the categories of: (a) foreign relations and world affairs and (b) economic/trade/finance and business are the two most salient story categories placed in the three publications. Compared with later periods.0% of its overall Chinese coverage. Although the Tiananmen Incident was still clearly remembered by the Western world. The Economist is a news magazine and its most salient items are put in the Leaders section. Analysis of the findings (1) Factors influencing the changing volume On the basis of interviewing China correspondents for the media. its big potential market and also its great investment opportunities. taking account of 15. helps to build the explicit image of a rising China in the media. One part in the next section is devoted to addressing the image in more detail. most of the space allocated to international news was consumed by the (former) Soviet Union and Japan. the linkage and de-linkage of human rights and trade policy toward China by the US government were also hotly discussed in the media. China was neither an interesting nor an important country in the world either economically or strategically. at this time.THE RISE OF CHINA Downloaded By: [The University of Western Australia] At: 05:27 29 October 2010 82 Chinese news stories on its front page. it cannot be simply interpreted as a kind of decline of interest in China. the economic aspect and external politics aspect. Even though the coverage declined in the period 1998 – 2002. which accounts for 7. the news media did not. which reflects the importance of the stories from its editorial perspective. In the IHT there are 127 front-page Chinese news stories. to some extent. the media paid more attention to the economic reform in China.9% of its overall Chinese coverage. Figures 5 – 7 show the content distribution of the Chinese items on the front page and among the Leaders in the three publications.

244 . Figure 7. 1989 –2005.LI ZHANG Downloaded By: [The University of Western Australia] At: 05:27 29 October 2010 Figure 5. Distribution of Chinese coverage in Leaders section by subject in The Economist. 1989–2005. Figure 6. 1989–2005. Distribution of Chinese coverage on front page by subject in the Financial Times. Distribution of Chinese coverage on the front page by subject in the International Herald Tribune.

made other countries in the region more attractive. In the period 1993– 1997. Chinese coverage would decline. despite the increased development of China. Downloaded By: [The University of Western Australia] At: 05:27 29 October 2010 245 . because there has been no reporting on Britain– China relations on the Hong Kong issue since 1997. another good indicator of the increased interest in and importance of China has been the number of correspondents working in China for the European transnational newspapers. which is not necessarily a reflection on the amount of interest in China in the long term.36 Hence. its coverage rapidly increased again. but. which in turn contributes to the growing volume of Chinese coverage. He said: I was here from 1996 to 2000. the FT Beijing Bureau chief. Therefore. David Lague. Hence. said that if the rest of Asia is relatively more important than China from a news point of view. David Lague. 37. when the drastic events of student demonstrations and the government crackdown took place. Apart from the output in the paper. David Lague. I know for a fact that it was very difficult to get space [for China] in the paper because of tremendous interest in Indonesia. IHT China correspondent. personal interview. Beijing. which made China still an important place to cover. but its fast growing economy under the reform and opening-up policy provided a wide stage for international companies. Furthermore. Thailand. but also wanted to have some materials that were particularly tailored to the Asian market as well as 36. in the period 1998 –2002. the intensive debate in the US government about its trade policy and human rights in China also drew media attention. in the period 1989 – 1992. it is not difficult to explain the decline in Chinese coverage. July 2006. According to the IHT correspondent. added that the coverage dropped after the Hong Kong handover. China was neither an important nor interesting place for the newspapers and there was little coverage except for the year 1989. This made the Chinese coverage slightly decline in comparison with the previous period. July 2006. Beijing. The fourth period. but it still had a much higher profile than in the first period. China engaged in the international political and economic systems quicker and evolved very fast. Richard McGregor. In addition. the coverage increased. the IHT appointed its first China correspondent in 2005. on the one hand. a crisis in Korea and Japan—all of the big collapses in economics in South-east Asia. on the other hand. Richard McGregor. For example. which led to there being less space to cover China. the Asian financial crisis. FT Beijing Bureau chief. China became a less interesting place than some other Asian countries during the financial crisis.37 After joining the WTO in 2001. China was still not an important country in the world system. It has become a bigger player in international issues and this turns it into both an interesting and an important country for the news media. It not only wanted to retain the existing service from the New York Times. China’s economy and its policies would have an impact on other countries in the region at times of crisis. this was done first because the IHT was trying to extend the reach of the Asian edition. was when China became both important and interesting for the news media. which made China an attractive place for the news media. personal interview.THE RISE OF CHINA the related economic problems during that time are taken into consideration. since a newspaper usually allocates a fairly fixed space for Asia news. From the journalistic point of view. All in all. generating some reporting on the issue. 2003– 2005. the IHT China correspondent.

A rising image of China economically is first of all of a country with huge opportunities for trade and investment. the image of the Chinese economy is still that ‘China is hot. banking. on the one hand. July 2006. while some big cities. activities of foreign companies. ‘The number of stories we write reflects in part how hard we work. there has been an extraordinary level of global interest in China. Even though in the IHT there is a slight drop in the third period.40 Even though there were some worries. considering that more people in the world were seeing China as an interesting place and were wanting to know more about it. (15 November 2003). such as Beijing. exports and imports. became quite modern. p. Thus China became an economically hot place: ‘Foreign businessmen and bankers are flocking there to do deals. trade. the economic-related news jumped to over 50% from the second period onward. China’s big potential market captured a large amount of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). the newly opened big market lures foreigners to scramble over one another to invest in China.38 From 2003. finance. numerous joint venture companies were established. the FT also doubled its number of correspondents in Beijing. Right now. the FT Beijing correspondent who joined the FT in 1998 and first worked as a Taipei correspondent for four years before moving to Beijing. Finance & Economics. while on the other hand. As a result. they want everything we give them’. Everybody wants to read about China’. the stock market. joint venture companies as well as big Chinese companies. Countless seminars are being held on how to do business in China’. Mure Dickie. have composed the biggest proportion of the reporting about China since 1993. In the FT. 40. ‘for the last four–five years. Shanghai and Guangzhou.LI ZHANG to Europe. The picture of China represented in the media is that. The proportion in The Economist is not as big as it is in the FT. 93. personal interview. since 1993. a more and more opened-up China warmly welcomes foreign investment under its reform policies. attributable to the increase of Chinese economic. but it also increased steadily. trade. to a large extent. China has become a much bigger economic story in the newspapers. said Mure Dickie. FT Beijing correspondent. 39. and so on. Beijing. personal interview. The coverage of China’s economic reform. China’s economy experienced a boom in the 1990s and it continues to grow at a very fast rate in the twenty-first century. The economic boom changed the face of China and became the country’s most important event. but also in part how much the editors want from us. this was done because of the increasing importance of China politically and economically in the international arena. The increase in reporting on China overall in the three news publications is. David Lague. finance and business stories. development. The Economist. finance and business news stories occupies the biggest portion of China reporting overall. Secondly. ‘China’s economy steaming’. in addition. Figure 8 shows the change of the proportion of economic news reporting in the three publications in the four periods. but not 38. 246 . The IHT felt that it needed to give more coverage to China. it could still be argued that. China has been represented as an economically attractive place in the media since 1993.39 Downloaded By: [The University of Western Australia] At: 05:27 29 October 2010 (2) Media perception of China’s rise The data show that the coverage of economic.

and because so many foreign businesses are piling in. but not for me’. and there are more multinationals making money there today than ever before.42 Therefore. they are also reporting the difficulty for investors. Thirdly. overheated’. This image is shown in the reporting of the activities of some big Chinese companies. Chinese companies are ‘spreading their wings’ to invest outside their own borders. Reading these impressive numbers. Investors have to compete with other foreign firms and brands. an economically attractive China is also a dynamic place full of competition between companies. 1989– 2005. ‘China is hot. but only in the last two or three years (2003. ‘A billion three. China is a much tougher market than many people think. as they began to look to the global market. 5. Survey. with the development of its economy. p. competition is likely to be fierce. 42. and Haier. Fourthly. Huawei. China joined the WTO in 2001. Comment. While the media depict a potentially huge Chinese market. are examples of firms which are building a global presence. the image of the economic aspect of a rising China is also as a country with very fast rates of growth and development. Fred Hu. TCL. (12 May 2004). p. China is emerging as an industrial power in its own right. (20 March 2004). Financial Times.THE RISE OF CHINA Downloaded By: [The University of Western Australia] At: 05:27 29 October 2010 Figure 8. businessmen find it difficult to resist the temptation to look for business with China. [U]ndoubtedly China’s potential is huge. but not overheated’. a TV manufacturer. 2004 and 2005) has the importance of China’s economy become fully apparent to the rest of 41. Special Section. which makes telecoms switching gear. As one story says. But for most foreigners. 21. Eye-catching statistics from China were very often presented in the media and they themselves said everything about a fast-growing country. a white-goods group. 247 .41 Secondly. The Economist. Changing coverage of economic/trade/finance/business news stories of China in the European transnational media. the market will turn out to be smaller than expected and take longer to develop. as well as with Chinese domestic companies.

even though the proportion dropped in the period 1998– 2002. We are in a middle of one of the big moments in human history where China attempts to join the Western dominated global mainstream’. On the other hand. China was represented as an important country economically and politically in the Asia– Pacific region. James Miles. for example. 18. China correspondent for The Economist. ‘Leader: Chinese chequers’. p.44 The change of its bank interest rates and the valuation of the RMB have become issues which concern the world. (16 February 2000). China itself is strategically important. however. particularly in the last two periods (from 1998) focus on China’s role in the six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear program. It has increased greatly in the last two periods (Figure 9). It reads.43 Economically. the more China becomes economically important. the activities of China’s imports and/or exports also have an impact on world prices.4% in the last period. 20. in other Asian countries as well as the world as a whole. Mure Dickie. as mentioned by James Miles. 46. In other fields. August 2006. Therefore. the more engaged it has to be with other strategic issues. ‘China is a fascinating country. its dealings with Africa. and the revaluation of the RMB’s impact on the international oil price. China accounts for just 3 per cent of the global economy. much of this rising image of China is represented in the stories concerning China’s external relations. the problem of Iran and so on.LI ZHANG the world.45 With China’s growing economy. sheer size and huge population. Financial Times. July 2006. Some stories concerned China’s ` attitude or activities vis-a-vis world issues and its role in the UN Security Council. (29 October 2004). others. personal interview. the media have reported the way in which China is engaging in the global market with its increased economic power and the changes it has made in economy related issues are having an influence on the world. Beijing. Leader. China naturally becomes a bigger player in diplomatic and political issues regionally and globally. Beijing. In nominal terms. Financial Times. and the opportunity and challenge which China brings to the stability of the Asian region on account of its rapid development. and as playing more of a role in international affairs. In the FT and The Economist. it jumped to 15. 45. the media reported the rise of interest rates in Chinese banks. said the FT China correspondent Mure Dickie. p. In this subject in the stories. the reform of the banking system. this sub-category occupies the second biggest proportion after the coverage of Sino– US relations. and so on. Downloaded By: [The University of Western Australia] At: 05:27 29 October 2010 248 . Lex Column. Hence. Latin America. 44. this category forms a large part of Chinese coverage in all three publications under scrutiny. on the face of it. It is not surprising at all to read the phrase The idea of inviting China to join the G8 summit of world leaders on Okinawa in July is. because these places are also important sources of its raw materials and energy. personal interview.46 43. By virtue of its mighty economy. In the IHT. As the statistics showed in previous sections. The Economist China correspondent. The Lex Column in the FT summed it up excellently in a comment entitled ‘Chinese whispers’. ‘[g]lobal markets are highly vulnerable to this Chinese puzzle. in sentiment terms. it packs a growing punch’. appealing. One sub-category in this group concerns China as an actor in regional and world affairs. ‘Chinese whispers’. A forum of the most powerful world leaders that excludes Jiang Zemin is obviously lacking an important voice.

which has raised the fears of other Asian countries and made them keen to adjust China’s impact. World Politics and Current Affairs. the European Union. ‘When China wakes. (29 December 2003). p. (21 March 1994). China is rising in the media politically in regional and international issues. Survey. 11. Russia. Leaders. If the image of an economically rising China started from 1993. Financial Times. but they have also extensively covered anxieties about China’s development of its relations with other powers and regions. ‘Terrific Pacific’. (19 November 2005). apart from the rising image of China. as Napoleon once observed. 2.48 Discussion: media coverage of China’s rise as a soft power Will the Western news media representation of a rising image of China have an impact on the country’s international image and therefore influence how other 47.THE RISE OF CHINA Downloaded By: [The University of Western Australia] At: 05:27 29 October 2010 Figure 9. p. 249 . p. However.47 In other words. Special Section. p. such as Japan. 29. a societal changing China and a human rights violating China. ‘New East Asia. Financial Times. The Economist. Leaders. See for example. a more comprehensive rising image of China has been perceived in the media since 1998 and this image has become more explicit since 2003. it will shake the world’. old enmities’. Asia. Tony Walker. the Middle East and Africa. ‘Beijing promises to work on Pyongyang: the visiting Japanese Prime Minister’s concern over N Korean nuclear sites’. The Economist. The message which the coverage sends is. such as a reforming China. there are some other images of China which are being portrayed in the media. 14. ‘Meeting the superpower. (8 October 2005). 1989– 2005. Certainly. ‘The rise of Asia gathers speed: adjustment to China’s impact will pose a huge challenge’. Changing proportion of China as an actor in regional and world affairs stories to the total of China’s external relations stories in the European transnational media. the rising image of China is the most salient one. The statistics of distribution of subject on Chinese stories shown in the previous section give us the strongest evidence of this. Not only have the media discussed the rise of an extrovert and assertive China. 48. China and the West’. 12. p. The Economist. (20 July 1996).

their relationship was still at a low profile because of the Tiananmen Incident. this does 49.50 When the Cold War was over. which lists a series of action plans to make progress towards the long-term aims defined in the 1998 Communication. EU – China relations had been regarded as being derived from their relations with the two superpowers. the EU and China built up a full strategic relationship with the publication of A Maturing Partnership—Shared Interests and Challenges in EU– China Relations. Downloaded By: [The University of Western Australia] At: 05:27 29 October 2010 250 . which has led to a bright future for them. Since 1995. the EU and China grew increasingly close to each other. 24 October 2006). 54. European Commission. 2003 and 2006) shows how fast EU – China relations have grown. EU–China: Closer Partners. Therefore. COM (1995) 279 final (Brussels. Growing Responsibilities. The foreign policy-makers’ understanding and perception of China is part of the fundamental basis for the formulation of a China policy. The change of perception of China can be one of the factors that lead to the change in China policy. David Shambaugh. This section discusses the role. A Long Term Policy for China–Europe Relations. A Maturing Partnership—Shared Interests and Challenges in EU– China Relations.53 The year 2003 is also regarded by both sides as the honeymoon year for EU – China relations. this signified that the EU had seen its relations with China as being as important as those with the US. European Commission. 50. 53. COM (1998) 181 final (Brussels. 25 March 1998). Growing Responsibilities. COM (2006) 631 final (Brussels. Russia and Japan. 15 May 2001). it can be seen as a watershed of EU– China relations in the post-Cold War era. the EU published its second policy paper regarding China. the EU published EU Strategy towards China: Implementation of the 1998 Communication and Future Steps for a More Effective EU Policy. by the Commission. 52. if any.52 In 2003. 10 September 2003). the EU has published five policy papers concerning China as well as two country strategy papers. COM (2001) 265 (Brussels.LI ZHANG countries treat China and make their policies toward China? If the news media are important sources of China information for policy-makers. Hence. Three years after the long-term direction of their relationship had been set. EU Strategy towards China: Implementation of the 1998 Communication and Future Steps for a More Effective EU Policy. Building a Comprehensive Partnership with China.51 From 1998 on. to some extent. The policy. European Commission. China and Europe: 1949–95 (London: SOAS. Building a Comprehensive Partnership with China. In 2001. based on their interpretation of the media coverage. was published in 1995. and represents a historical step in EU – China relations. 2002 – 2006 and 2007– 2013. The paper.54 The title of the paper indicates that EU –China relations have moved even closer and points to an even more reliable partnership. COM (2003) 533 fin (Brussels.49 It was the first policy paper of the EU regarding China. European Commission. 5 July 1995). entitled EU– China: Closer Partners. in 2006 was the latest Communication Paper that EU published toward China. European Commission. change of media coverage of China is one of the factors changing foreign policy toward China. 1995). of the media coverage of China’s rise in transforming China’s foreign relations using the case of EU– China relations. Contemporary China Institute. 2001. In the Cold War era. 51. entitled A Long Term Policy for China– Europe Relations. The 1995 policy paper set a new direction for EU –China relations in the long term. The frequency of publication of the milestone policy papers (1995. 1998. how the media portray China would have an impact on the foreign policy-makers’ understanding and perception of China. However.

knowing what is happening in China. for instance.58 Moreover. July 2007. We get a lot of good articles. you cannot afford to be not informed or start your day. Without that I can’t start my day. is not as effective as expected. ‘We do it whenever we feel necessary. Macao. but they also play a role in the EU internal communications. China in 1995. Policies and Prospects (London: Routledge. where the policy papers discussed above were created. Brussels. . Personal interview. Eberhard Sandschneider and Hong Zhou. we need to examine the sources of China information for the EU officials in the Commission and particularly the Unit of China. however. 59. according to an official in the Unit of China. eds. the news media are not only the main source of information for those officials. Personal interview. July 2007. Personal interview. Taiwan and Mongolia in the European Commission. and China in 2000. Franco Algieri. the Unit of China. It’s done a very good job. meeting with Chinese officials. ‘It’s the system that matters: institutionalization and making of EU policy toward China’.57 The news media provide good information for decision-makers on EU – China relations. Brussels. invariably in English. At least. It is required for the officials who deal with China issues to have some knowledge about China and to keep track of events happening in China on a daily basis. According to Algieri. in David Shambaugh. .55 What makes the officials think China is evolving fast and is very different in different periods? To answer this question. 2008). Hong Kong. Macao. Mongolia in the DG External Relations. For every official working in the decision-making body concerning China in the European Commission. and you don’t know about it. Personal interview. issues. 69. the day begins with a very long media clipping concerning China. Hong Kong. in 2007 are not the same. something has happened. Brussels.56 Visiting delegations and going on missions to China. Almost everything of China is there in the media . 251 . even within one institution. Taiwan and Mongolia. pp. Brussels. covered. That is how everyone starts the day. They have already been reported when we start working. Hong Kong. talking to their personal contacts and getting reports from non-government organizations provide the EU officials with information about China. Macao. Parliament and other institutions. 57. July 2007. One official stated: The Media is very important. bureaucratic difficulties make it hard to obtain open and effective coordination and communication between the two departments concerning China policy-making in the Council. the news media have been regarded as the main source of information on a daily basis. 58. That means we have to adopt our policy accordingly’. problems etc. 65– 83 at p.THE RISE OF CHINA Downloaded By: [The University of Western Australia] At: 05:27 29 October 2010 not mean the EU makes new policy regarding China on a predictable basis. China is evolving extremely rapidly. It has privileged use of media 55. China–Europe Relations: Perceptions.59 The DG Communication is responsible for communicating with member states as well as for the internal communication within and among the Commission. 56. It helps to understand more about China. they can see each other reading a bunch of newspapers. The internal coordination and communication between departments. July 2007. we are lucky because we have a time difference. One official described that when colleagues meet early in the morning at 8 o’clock. the DG External and the Policy Unit.

Le Monde Diplomatique is also very popular. All the EU officials interviewed for this study provided similar information. Brussels. EU officials do not have TV in their offices. 61. Personal interview. There is a greatly positive attitude toward the Chinese who appear to be trying to adapt and modernize 60. All the EU officials I interviewed for this research share this opinion. For example. even though they interpret the media through their own expertise and attitudes and the opinions of the people around them. However. sometimes some Parliament areas will be surprised that the Commission is legislating on anti-smoking or whatever. July 2007. they feel that the topic of Chinese news has also become broader. which leads to their decision-making. websites have started to become more popular. it is natural that the other institutions will also read these and maybe react to it. such as the FT. They may do other issues. Many officials go on the Web for news and the BBC website is a popular one.62 The overall information that the EU officials get about China provides input in forming their perception of China.LI ZHANG facilities and services and is served by communication professionals. television and the Internet. The Economist is the weekly paper which is widely read. They have a general perception that China is a country which is huge. what they perceive from the media reporting will greatly influence their perception of China. In other words. during the day. the newspapers. the South China Morning Post and so on. or only a few people have.63 Apart from the volume. said one official. 62.60 Downloaded By: [The University of Western Australia] At: 05:27 29 October 2010 There are different types of news media. WSJ. Information volume is such [sic] enormous. Some general newspapers. the most popular newspapers among EU officials are the most important transnational or transEuropean newspapers. All my interviewees in the Commission said that they felt the volume of the media coverage of China had greatly increased. the most popular publications are always from large member states or from the US. As one official in the DG Communication said: When something or a new project makes noises in the media. So no MEP will know about every legal proposal that is in process. The most widely read newspaper in Brussels is the Financial Times. radio. Even the Parliament is organized in subgroups that are dealing with certain sub-subjects. The daily clippings sent to the officials in the China Unit are from the major newspapers. Since the news media are their main source of China information on a daily basis. but they still cannot communicate everything. Brussels. the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and the International Herald Tribune (IHT) are also read in Brussels. They may learn from newspapers what the others are doing. China is in the news every day’. Recently. TV is the medium that they probably watch in the evening when they are at home.61 According to the EU officials interviewed for this research. July 2007. Personal interview. It is probably impossible for every person to know everything else going on. It has changed from being mainly economic news to covering all aspects of China. Officials in the EU still need the news media to know what other officials are doing. as they cover many issues about China on a daily basis. 63. ‘The amount of news coverage has increased. 252 . everything is very much newspaper-based. so it is quite difficult to maintain so many reform processes and it is evolving very quickly. IHT.

Previous studies on the media and foreign policy-makers and interviews with EU officials for the present study. The above discussion concerning the media coverage of China and the development of China’s relations with the EU indicates that there is a correlation between the media coverage. there is a big involvement of many countries. change and rise for decision-makers in another country or political entity. Even though there are other channels and sources available. . the perception of China among EU officials is very much alike. The EU officials’ perception of China is fundamental to the improving EU – China relations and it plays a significant role in the EU’s policymaking toward China. in a sense. including government elites. Therefore. 64. It is seen as a powerful trend of involvement and great modernization: ‘Since the end of Cold War. Brussels. Conclusion The news media are the main sources of information for most people in the world. . The changing and improving coverage of China in the news media have changed the EU officials’ perception of China. As a result. in UN Security Council and in the WTO’. as the main information sources for EU officials on a daily basis. officials’ perception and foreign policy-making toward China. particularly in the political side . especially China. The EU officials read or get clippings from the important trans-European newspapers and the similar pattern of China coverage in these news publications helps to form their shared perception of China. it can be argued that the media perception plays a significant role in China’s external relations by boosting the awareness of China’s development.64 From these perceptions it is not difficult to tell that first of all. both show that the news media are not only important sources for their information to ‘map the world’. there exist some similarities between the media perception and the EU officials’ perception.THE RISE OF CHINA themselves in many areas of the big country. Personal interview. The possible role of the media coverage of China’s rise in this can be described as the following: the news media. and it is an important reason among those which have led to the formulation of a new policy paper or updating of the previous policy paper regarding China. are among the factors which have influenced the EU’s policy-making regarding China. secondly. the EU has been made to rethink its policy regarding China to keep pace with the country’s rapid development and the relations between it and the EU. can also be applied to the context of governments making their China policy. internally and internationally plays a significant part in changing the EU officials’ perception of China. added another official. The coverage of China. especially how China is rising economically and politically. China is a very big valid actor in world issues. the news media. July 2007. change and rise of China. News media as important sources of information for foreign policy-makers and the role of the media in policy-making processes. which previous studies have found. have helped EU officials to understand the development. which floats into their decision-making toward China. but also communicative tools within the decision-making circle in governments. Hence. Downloaded By: [The University of Western Australia] At: 05:27 29 October 2010 253 .

254 . policy-making is a complex process which could be influenced by multiple variables. The news media. Or to put it in a media and communication studies terminology. cannot be the sole basis for the policy-making. politically it experienced unrest. given that the media provide information for policy-makers and there is a link between the media agenda and policy agenda. leadership division and the strengthening of reformist governance. or any other single factor. In this process. Economically. The rise of China as an emerging ‘big power’ in the world has not only improved its position in the Asia– Pacific region. The image of a rising China in the media is a soft power transforming its foreign relations by influencing the policy-making of other countries or entities toward it. All these related events and activities have drawn great media attention and have been represented in detail. China itself is changing and developing very fast and the news coverage reflects or stresses the change and development in many ways. it continued with its opening-up policy and market-oriented reforms. it is the agenda-setting function that the media coverage of the rise of China has increased the salience of China on the other country’s foreign policy agenda. During the 17-year period studied. much faster than any other country. as the media reporting of China build the broader environment within which China policies are made. The coverage of China’s rise can seep into the process of other countries’ external policy-making. the news media have been influential in the presentation of the country’s salience. An image of a rising China has been widely perceived in the foreign news media. China underwent many radical changes. The officials read and interpret the media reporting. we cannot ignore the power of the media in international politics. and its economy grew rapidly. Inside the country. However. but also allows China to begin to play a more important part in world affairs. the news media play a role in spreading the information of China’s rise and generating foreign response in their policy toward China. to the amazement of the world. Certainly. The media coverage generates the perception of China’s rise and hence contributes to forming a shared perception among officials about China and the policy to be adopted regarding it. due to the relative richness and capacity of the news media compared with other communication channels. In the long-term overall relationship.LI ZHANG Downloaded By: [The University of Western Australia] At: 05:27 29 October 2010 government elites comprehensively consume the news media for information.

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