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The discursive reproduction of Chinese and Japanese national identities: Editorials and opinions of the East China Sea dispute in the China Daily and Daily Yomiuri
Unformatted Document Text:  News, identity and ideology 20 provides an underlying context for the subsequent three semantic moves that follow the commentary. The first is the construction of a ‘consensus’ instigated by the then Vice-Premier Deng Xiaoping during the signing of the 1978 Sino-Japanese Treaty of Peace to “shelve bilateral disputes for a common development”. This positive self- presentation aimed to show the agency of the Chinese leadership towards a peaceful relationship with Japan. The second semantic move describes the roles and actions of Japanese politicians and the Japanese media in instilling the belief that the islands belong to Japan. However, by emphasizing the role of the U.S. at the beginning of the commentary the agency of the Japanese actions is diminished. The final semantic move then focuses on the need for mutual conciliation and cooperation between the two countries. The lexical choice of ‘East Asian community’ is used twice so as to assimilate Japan into a common regional identity that is distinguished from the U.S. In contrast to the previous two commentaries which predominantly adopt the strategies of perpetuation and justification to emphasize national identity differences this commentary uses a strategy of assimilation by emphasizing neighborliness and the pragmatic issue of mutual economic benefits. Compared to the first two commentaries the third one ends on a more positive tone as shown in extract 11. Extract 11 Both China and Japan can share abundant natural resources in the East China Sea, extricate themselves from the long-standing shackles of territorial disputes as soon as possible and convert potential resources in this area into wealth to realize a win-win result. (China Daily, September 15) In the four Daily Yomiuri commentaries the word ‘Asia’ only appears once, referring to China’s fishing ships creating tensions with ‘Southeast Asian nations’. Therefore, the strategy of assimilation sparsely used and the ‘Japanese’ identity as portrayed in the

Authors: Chan, Michael.
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News, identity and ideology 20
provides an underlying context for the subsequent three semantic moves that follow 
the commentary. The first is the construction of a ‘consensus’ instigated by the then 
Vice-Premier Deng Xiaoping during the signing of the 1978 Sino-Japanese Treaty of 
Peace to “shelve bilateral disputes for a common development”. This positive self-
presentation aimed to show the agency of the Chinese leadership towards a peaceful 
relationship with Japan. The second semantic move describes the roles and actions of 
Japanese politicians and the Japanese media in instilling the belief that the islands 
belong to Japan. However, by emphasizing the role of the U.S. at the beginning of the 
commentary the agency of the Japanese actions is diminished. The final semantic 
move then focuses on the need for mutual conciliation and cooperation between the 
two countries. The lexical choice of ‘East Asian community’ is used twice so as to 
assimilate Japan into a common regional identity that is distinguished from the U.S. In 
contrast to the previous two commentaries which predominantly adopt the strategies of 
perpetuation and justification to emphasize national identity differences this 
commentary uses a strategy of assimilation by emphasizing neighborliness and the 
pragmatic issue of mutual economic benefits. Compared to the first two commentaries 
the third one ends on a more positive tone as shown in extract 11.
Extract 11
Both China and Japan can share abundant natural resources in the East China 
Sea, extricate themselves from the long-standing shackles of territorial disputes 
as soon as possible and convert potential resources in this area into wealth to 
realize a win-win result. (China Daily, September 15)
In the four Daily Yomiuri commentaries the word ‘Asia’ only appears once, referring 
to China’s fishing ships creating tensions with ‘Southeast Asian nations’. Therefore, the 
strategy of assimilation sparsely used and the ‘Japanese’ identity as portrayed in the 


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