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Durham University

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Publication details

Cao, Qing (2012). Modernity and Media Portrayals of China. Journal of Asian Pacific Communication 22(1): 1-21.

Author(s) from Durham


China's image in the Western media has long been a contentious issue. Many previous studies have focused on what images are constructed but few have examined how those images are generated. This article aims to address this issue by exploring cultural foundations of Western representations of China. The article falls into three parts. Part one traces configurations of modernity discourse, focusing on liberal humanism and industrialism as two important dimensions in reporting Chinese affairs. Part Two examines historical trajectories of Western images of China, highlighting different mix of the two versions of modernity at crucial historical junctures. Part three explores conceptual and methodological issues in relation to Western reporting of China. Based on structuralist narrative theories, an analytical model is proposed that is illustrated with specific examples. The article concludes with a critical assessment of current situations of Western reporting of China.