A Critical Discourse Analysis of News Reports on Sino-US Trade War in The New York Times

  •  Ruiqi Zhou    
  •  Siying Qin    


Critical Discourse Analysis is an interdisciplinary approach to the study of discourse regarding language as a form of social practice. As a specific discourse, news discourse is a representation of the journalists’ expression and construction of events, as well as readers’ understanding and cognition of the events reported. It functions as a carrier that transmits ideologies and social values. Recently, news reports on the trade conflicts between China and the US has been the focus of world attention. A study of news reports on Sino-US trade conflicts with Critical Discourse Analysis approach helps interpret the relation between language use and social contexts and reveal ideological significance and power struggle in language. Twenty pieces of news reports on China’s tariff actions on the United States, collected from The New York Times from 2018 to 2019 are studied and the result shows that the use of language in the news texts is not arbitrary, but rather dominated by the medium. The options of lexical expressions in news, the selection of clause types and the position of participants enable the medium to construct a negative image of China and to define China as an unfavorable country. The reasons deciding the language use in this discourse are the tension and balance of the power relation between the U.S. and China in the trade war, and the institution’s favor of the American interest, the American political hegemony and the advocacy of force.

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