The Chinese quest for good reputation: Strategic narratives, public diplomacy and China’s mass-media strategy

University essay from Lunds universitet/Centrum för öst- och sydöstasienstudier

Abstract: Soft power and public diplomacy compose the new reality shaping the dynamics of contemporary international relations. Strategic narratives represent an essential means for political actors to extend their influence, gain the public opinion’s support for their actions and fulfill their foreign policy goals. The thesis focused on the Chinese Party state’s construction of strategic narratives targeted towards foreign audiences, with the purpose of actively encouraging the increasement of positive views on China and strengthening its status as a ‘peaceful rising power’. Through qualitative content analysis, the major themes and subthemes employed in the period between 2018 and 2020 in the English-language media outlets controlled by the Party-state used as empirical data sources were identified and their meaning was interpreted in the theoretical framework of strategic narratives. The analysis demonstrated that China employs complex narratives, which are continuously adapted to fit the preferences of the distinct audiences and seek to create consensus over China’s appropriate capacity to assume the status of responsible major global player and promote equity, multilateralism, free trade and mutually beneficial cooperation as the principles guiding the new world order emerging in the aftermath of the lasting consequences determined by the ‘Trade War’ and the COVID-19 pandemic.

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