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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 7 2009). Nevertheless, the arrest of the Chinese trawler and its crew by the Japanese navy on September 7 2010 posed three critical challenges for the Chinese government. First, it had to demonstrate its duty and ability as a sovereign nation to secure the release of its citizens and stand up to Japan. Second, it had to assert its power by laying claim to the group of islands in the East China Sea area, known as Diaoyutai in Chinese (‘Fishing Platform Islands’) and Senkaku Retto in Japanese (‘Rocky Hill Islands’). The two are closely connected since without asserting sovereignty there is no case to be made that the Chinese trawler crew was unjustly arrested. Third, the government had to placate popular nationalism that had been facilitated in part by the gradual liberalization of the Chinese mass media and the widespread use of the Internet which allowed the media and citizens to vent their anger in an unsanctioned and excessive way that could potentially escalate the dispute. As far as the Japanese government is concerned there is no question to them about the sovereignty of the islands as the issue was already settled according to previous international treaties, including the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty and the 1972 Okinawa Reversion Treaty (Su, 2005). Their perspective is that the Chinese leadership uses incidents such as the East China Sea issue to flex its rising political and economic power in the region; and to placate prevalent nationalist and anti-Japanese sentiments among its own citizens. Moreover, China uses the “history card” strategically and purposefully to frustrate Japan’s attempts to assert itself as an international power that befits its economic clout and status (Calder, 2006). Considering that the economic ties between the two countries have become so interdependent it is likely that the direction of the current dispute will follow the same path as the previous five and gradually fade into the background of the public agenda. Nevertheless, it is often in such international spats that we can observe how national identities of the self and the other are constructed and reproduced in ideological discourse through the press. The next section will elaborate on the theoretical framework of this study and explicate the two

Authors: Chan, Michael.
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News, identity and ideology 7
2009). Nevertheless, the arrest of the Chinese trawler and its crew by the Japanese navy on 
September 7 2010 posed three critical challenges for the Chinese government. First, it had to 
demonstrate its duty and ability as a sovereign nation to secure the release of its citizens and 
stand up to Japan. Second, it had to assert its power by laying claim to the group of islands in 
the East China Sea area, known as Diaoyutai in Chinese (‘Fishing Platform Islands’) and 
Senkaku Retto in Japanese (‘Rocky Hill Islands’). The two are closely connected since 
without asserting sovereignty there is no case to be made that the Chinese trawler crew was 
unjustly arrested. Third, the government had to placate popular nationalism that had been 
facilitated in part by the gradual liberalization of the Chinese mass media and the widespread 
use of the Internet which allowed the media and citizens to vent their anger in an 
unsanctioned and excessive way that could potentially escalate the dispute. 
As far as the Japanese government is concerned there is no question to them about the 
sovereignty of the islands as the issue was already settled according to previous international 
treaties, including the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty and the 1972 Okinawa Reversion 
Treaty (Su, 2005).  Their perspective is that the Chinese leadership uses incidents such as the 
East China Sea issue to flex its rising political and economic power in the region; and to 
placate prevalent nationalist and anti-Japanese sentiments among its own citizens. Moreover, 
China uses the “history card” strategically and purposefully to frustrate Japan’s attempts to 
assert itself as an international power that befits its economic clout and status (Calder, 2006).
Considering that the economic ties between the two countries have become so 
interdependent it is likely that the direction of the current dispute will follow the same path as 
the previous five and gradually fade into the background of the public agenda. Nevertheless, 
it is often in such international spats that we can observe how national identities of the self 
and the other are constructed and reproduced in ideological discourse through the press. The 
next section will elaborate on the theoretical framework of this study and explicate the two 


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