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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 6 for several years (Koh, 2010). Therefore, at the economic and cultural levels it can be said that the relationship between the countries are quite benign and based on relatively pragmatic ideals, concerns and interests. Yet, the political sphere is characteristically much more volatile and is characterized by mutual distrust and suspicion that sometimes manifest into well-publicized diplomatic rows and standoffs between the nations. An underlying and recurring dominant official Chinese government narrative is that Japan has not adequately and properly apologized for the various wartime actions committed against China and its people during the Second Sino- Japanese War 2 . On occasions such feelings are spilled into the international political arena when Japanese politicians do something that is considered provocative and insensitive towards the Chinese government and its people, such as visits to the Yasukuni shrine to honor the war dead (Shibuichi, 2005) and the revision of Japanese school textbooks that downplays Japan’s actions during the war (Schneider, 2008). Part of the reason for the sensitivity towards Japan is that the legitimacy of the Chinese government is closely intertwined with its perceived role in fighting and defeating the occupying-Japanese forces during the Second Sino-Japanese War (Calder, 2006). It is a legacy that is institutionalized and constructed through nationalist teachings in schools and discourses reproduced by government propaganda and the media. Therefore, the government and the media are obliged to respond to any Japanese actions that can be construed as provocative or offensive to China and its people. The East China Sea dispute is another recurring source of tension between the two countries as there had been five previous diplomatic flare-ups between the two nations over the sovereignty of the islands since 1968. Yet, each time any potential escalation of the dispute was defused in order to protect the countries’ mutual economic interests 3 (Koo, 2 Started in 1937 and eventually merged into World War II after Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941. 3 The first dispute occurred in 1968 and followed by additional incidents in 1978, 1990, 1996 and 2004 (Koo, 2009).

Authors: Chan, Michael.
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News, identity and ideology 6
for several years (Koh, 2010). Therefore, at the economic and cultural levels it can be said 
that the relationship between the countries are quite benign and based on relatively pragmatic 
ideals, concerns and interests.
Yet, the political sphere is characteristically much more volatile and is characterized 
by mutual distrust and suspicion that sometimes manifest into well-publicized diplomatic 
rows and standoffs between the nations. An underlying and recurring dominant official 
Chinese government narrative is that Japan has not adequately and properly apologized for 
the various wartime actions committed against China and its people during the Second Sino-
Japanese War
. On occasions such feelings are spilled into the international political arena 
when Japanese politicians do something that is considered provocative and insensitive 
towards the Chinese government and its people, such as visits to the Yasukuni shrine to honor 
the war dead (Shibuichi, 2005) and the revision of Japanese school textbooks that downplays 
Japan’s actions during the war (Schneider, 2008). 
Part of the reason for the sensitivity towards Japan is that the legitimacy of the 
Chinese government is closely intertwined with its perceived role in fighting and defeating 
the occupying-Japanese forces during the Second Sino-Japanese War (Calder, 2006). It is a 
legacy that is institutionalized and constructed through nationalist teachings in schools and 
discourses reproduced by government propaganda and the media. Therefore, the government 
and the media are obliged to respond to any Japanese actions that can be construed as 
provocative or offensive to China and its people. 
The East China Sea dispute is another recurring source of tension between the two 
countries as there had been five previous diplomatic flare-ups between the two nations over 
the sovereignty of the islands since 1968. Yet, each time any potential escalation of the 
dispute was defused in order to protect the countries’ mutual economic interests
 (Koo, 
2
 Started in 1937 and eventually merged into World War II after Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941.
3
 The first dispute occurred in 1968 and followed by additional incidents in 1978, 1990, 1996 and 2004 (Koo, 
2009).


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