The Chinese print media’s reporting of domestic ‘terrorist’ attacks: ideographs, social values and counter-terrorism frames

Struve, Bastian (2019) The Chinese print media’s reporting of domestic ‘terrorist’ attacks: ideographs, social values and counter-terrorism frames. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

Following the attacks of September 11 2001 in the United States, China proclaimed its own ‘war on terror’ with the Uyghur of Xinjiang as a frontline. At the same time as ongoing US anti-terrorism efforts around the world, the Chinese government deployed repressive campaigns in one of its own troubled regions, campaigns which intensified with the riots in Urumqi in 2009. A series of high-casualty attacks since 2014 demonstrates further exacerbation of the conflict and entailed a strengthening of the counter-terrorism apparatus in the following years. Yet several scholars have questioned the nature of the purported terrorist threat to China, suggesting that the new narrative around the Uyghur issue was an attempt by the regime to preserve its authority and escape international condemnation for the severity of its actions. However, although these scholars highlight the party-state’s use of the terrorism label for the Xinjiang conflict, there is still a comprehensive analysis missing on how the party-state portrays the terrorist threat to its people.

Responding to this research problem, this dissertation presents the first systematic analysis Chinese media coverage of domestic ‘terrorist’ attacks. Drawing upon eight cases from 2009 to 2015, and twelve Chinese newspapers, this analysis focuses on the determinants of
terrorism coverage and framing patterns through a combination of qualitative content analysis and quantitative text analysis. I argue that the Chinese party-state engages through various methods of news censorship and coordination to construct a terrorist threat that is
surprisingly abstract- invoking extremism as the threat, but without referring much to particular agents, organisation or religions. Also, I argue that the party-state uses the abstract terrorism portrayal to campaign against all ‘three evil forces’ (terrorism, extremism, separatism), while also promoting social values that align with the regime’s resilience. The dissertation reveals the various frames that make up the party-state’s terrorist threat construction. It demonstrates that the party-state uses the Xinjiang conflict to rally the Chinese people under the flag of the Chinese Communist Party while also creating the image of an archetypical enemy that can be applied to a large range of party-state perceived threats. These features of the Chinese news coverage of ‘terrorist’ attacks shed light on the mediated reality of the conflict and provide an alternative perspective to US-centred media scholarship on terrorism.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Politics
Supervisor's Name: Duckett, Professor Jane and Fogarty, Dr. Brian
Date of Award: 2019
Depositing User: Bastian Struve
Unique ID: glathesis:2019-81331
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 04 May 2020 15:33
Last Modified: 04 May 2020 16:36
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/81331

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