A Comparative Study of Competing Discursive Construction of South China Sea Disputes in the Chinese and US English-Language Newspapers

  •  Dan Zhang    


This study examines the discursive construction of South China Sea dispute in China Daily and The New York Times from April 2016 to December 2017. Drawing on Van Dijk’s account of critical discourse analysis and the linguistic framework of Appraisal theory (Martin & White, 2005), this study investigates how three social actors in the dispute, namely China, United States, Philippines, are differently constructed with the strategic use of attitude resources in the two newspapers. The corpus analyzed consists of 45 newspaper texts from China Daily and 49 newspaper texts from The New York Times. The analysis reveals competing discursive construction of social actors that constitute positive us-representation and negative other-representation in the two newspapers. For example, China Daily constructs China as a peace-loving country, insisting on the peaceful means and the cooperation with ASEAN and other claimant countries to resolve the dispute, whereas The New York Times depicts China as threat, hegemony and provocation. Such competing discursive construction not only reflects the ideological stance of two newspapers, but also functions to legitimize their countries’ policies and decisions in the South China Sea dispute.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
  • ISSN(Print): 1925-4768
  • ISSN(Online): 1925-4776
  • Started: 2011
  • Frequency: quarterly

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