Political discourse is critical to the legitimisation of China's ruling elite and critically informs its formulation and execution of political action. This study explores the theme of victimhood in China's contemporary political discourse. The constructed nature of political discourse—the ‘official story’ in Benedict Anderson's phrase—draws upon a range of supporting sources. Of central importance is the role of history and one of its key features is the portrayal of China as victim. This offers a distinctive pole of identificatory attachment for the construction of a modernist reading of national Chinese political identity. The study conducts discourse analyses of three primary texts. It is concluded that objectified discursive power remains an influential factor in Chinese politics.
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Essentialism being defined as “the idea that humans and human institutions... are governed by determinate natures that inhere in them in the same way that they are supposed to inhere in the entities of the natural world”. Ronald Inden, Imagining India (Oxford: Blackwell, 1990), p. 2.
Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities (London: Verso, 1991 edn.), p. 101.
Stuart Schram, The Political Thought of Mao Tse-tung (New York: Frederick Praeger, 1963, rpr. 1969), p. 167.
Jiang Zemin, National Day Address, 29 September, 1989, in Geremie Barme and Linda Jaivin, New Ghosts, Old Dreams-Chinese Rebel Voices (New York: Times Books, 1992), pp. 396–397.
According to Bruce Gilley, Jiang Zemin quotes Lu Xun's phrase that “We Chinese have backbone” and then following it up with his own comment that “We shall never yield to unreasonable pressure exerted on us by foreigners”. See Bruce Gilley, Tiger on the Brink—Jiang Zemin and China's New Elite (Berkley: University of California Press, 1998), p. 16.
Gilley accredits Jiang Zemin with a 1984 statement that “We cannot allow our products to be excluded abroad and then let foreigners run our factories to make money”. Bruce Gilley,, p. 70.
Bruce Gilley, p. 272.
Bruce Gilley, p. 271.
Norman Fairclough, Language and Power (New York: Longman, 1989) p. 26.
Fairclough, op. cit. p. 112.
Henry Widdowson, Learning Purpose and Language Use (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983) p. 54.
Fairclough, Language and Power ( p. 163.
William Connolly, The Terms of Political Discourse (Lexington, MA: DC Heath & Co., 1974).
Connolly, Ibid., Preface.
Connolly, Ibid. p. 1.
Connolly, Ibid.. p. 2.
Connolly, Ibid., Preface.
Bob Hodge and Kam Louie, The Politics of Chinese Language and Culture (London: Routledge, 1998), p. 8.
See Jung Chang, Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China (London: Harper Collins, 1993 edn.), p. 298; Michael Schoenhals (ed.), China's Cultural Revolution, 1966–1969 (New York: M.E. Sharpe, 1996).
Pre-modern (jindai), modern (xiandai), and contemporary (dangdai) of Chinese history starts respectively in 1840, 1911, and 1949.
Ann Anagnost, “Who is Speaking Here? Discursive Boundaries and Representation in Post-Mao China,” in John Hay (ed.), Boundaries in China (London: Reaktion Books, 1994) pp. 260–261.
In the case study, many linguistic units are counted in Chinese due to the nature of textual analysis of the original Chinese version. However, analysis of the English version is also included wherever necessary.
Representative authors on this subject include Lin Zexu, Gong Zizhen, Wei Yuan (first generation of Qing Court reformers in mid-19th century), Kang Youwei, Liang Qichao, Yan Fu, Tan Sitong (reformers in late 19th century), Zhang Binglin, Zou Rong, Chen Tianhua (radical scholars in early 20th century), Sun Yats-sen, Huang Xin, Cai Yuanpei (revolutionaries and scholars in early 20th century), and Li Dazao, Chen Duxiu, Lu Xun (leading scholars in the first quarter of this century).
One centre means “economic development.” Two basic principles are “adhering to reform” and “opening up, and four cardinal principles.”
For a fuller description of contextual analysis, in particular, of these three terms, see Fairclough, Language and Power, Chapter 6. Norman Fairclough Media Discourse (London: Edward Arnold, 1995) chapters 4, 5.
Bruce Gilley, Tiger on the Brink—Jiang Zemin and China's New Elite (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998), p. 312.
For exemplary texts shaped by this report, see, Guidance Reader for the study for the 15th CCP National Congress Report (Beijing: People Publishing House, 1997), Yan Changgui, Lu Jining, and Gao Lu, et al., Outline for the Study of Some Theoretical Issues for the Building of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics (Beijing: Xuexi Publishing House, 1998).
See Bruce Gilley, op. cit., p. 264. he quotes the May 1995 Xinhua article as commenting that “even though the market economics propounded by Deng Xiaoping have won the support of the Chinese people, complaints about the fall in moral standards have increased day by day...[the] disappearance of social norms, the death of morals, and the disintegration of traditional values.” Gilley also quotes the conclusion of the State Economic Reform Commission 2,000 household survey that the “level of people's satisfaction with the reforms has continued to fall year by year,... [whilst] demands for a greater sense of security have clearly risen.”
An typical example is the Cultural Revolution which was framed as a positive dominant theme in the CCP's 9th National Congress, as a disaster in 6th Plenary Session of the 11th National Congress, and made a absence as a topic in the 15th National Congress. For an official authoritative text guiding the CCP's redefining of contemporary history, see, Deng Xiaoping, Some views on drafting “Resolution on Some Historical Issues of the CCP since the Founding of the PRC” in Selected Works of Deng Xiaoping: 1975–1982 (Beijing: People's Publishing House, 1983), p. 255–274.
Also known as Xinhai Revolution, referring to the revolution led by Dr. Sun Yat-sen overthrowing the last dynasty of feudal China.
Heshang, means in Chinese the sad song for the passing away of loved ones. We prefer the translation River Elegy to Deathsong of the River as in the title of the series.
Xia Jun, Su Xiaokang, Wang Luxiang.
Richard W. Bodman, From History to Allegory to Art: A Personal Search for Interpretation in Su Xiaokang, Wang Luxiang (eds.), Deathsong of the River: A Reader's Guide to the Chinese TV Series Heshang (New York: East Asia Programme Cornell University, 1991) p. 1.
Among these critics, the most prominent is Tu Wei-ming, Professor of philosophy at Harvard University. For one of his articles, see, “Deathsong of the River: Whither Chinese Culture?” in Su Xiaokang and Wang Luxiang (eds.), Deathsong of the River, pp. 301–309.
Su Xiaokang, Heshang, Student Movement, and the Changing Trend of Culture in China Digest (an electronic journal), Issue 14–5, at (www.cnd.org).
See, Su Xiaokang, Wang Luxiang (eds.) op.cit. p. 311.
Simon Schama Landscape and Memory (London: Fontana, 1995).
Frank Dikotter, The Construction of Racial Identities in China and Japan (London: Hurst, 1997).
This text is taken from a companion book for the national textbook for the course of History of the Chinese Revolution. The 1994 edition of the former prints 35,161 copies; and the 1993 edition of the latter prints 1.1 millions copies.
For definition of “discourse practice” used in this article, see previous sections on Norman Fairclough's formulation of discourse and discourse analysis.
The title of this speech is Hold High the Great Banner of Deng Xiaoping Theory for an Allround Advancement of the Cause of Building Socialism with Chinese Characteristics into the 21st Century.
In Selected Documents of the 15th CCP National Congress (Beijing: New Star Publishers, 1997) p. 3–5.
In Su Xiaokang, Wang Luxiang (eds.) op. cit., p. 314.
See Yang, Xiancai (ed) Guidance for the History of Chinese Revolution: National Textbook for the Foundation Course of Marxist Theory at Institutions of Higher Education (Beijing: Higher Education Press, 1995) p. 226–227. Translated by Cao Qing.
For the Party's basic policy formulated as “One centre, two basic principles”.
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Renwick, N., Cao, Q. China's political discourse towards the 21st century: Victimhood, identity, and political power. East Asia 17, 111–143 (1999). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12140-999-0019-7
- Chinese Communist Party
- Political Discourse
- Schematic Knowledge
- Chinese Nation
- Discursive Space