The Chinese Narrative on the American West: Discursive Shift Amid Rising Foreign Policy Challenges

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2023-67-11-112-126
Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO University), The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, 76, Vernadskogo Prosp., Moscow, 119454, Russian Federation.

Received 25.07.2023. Revised 02.08.2023. Accepted 06.09.2023.

Abstract. The growing tensions between China and the US have led to a noticeable shift in their mutual perceptions, driving Chinese authors to use the term “American West” (Mei Xifang) more extensively. This study explores the evolution of the “American West” narrative and its implications for China’s worldview, utilizing a representative dataset from China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI) and advanced corpus linguistics techniques. The analysis delves into the semantic nuances and frequency of the “American West” narrative in academic and media discourse. Valuable insights emerge from the examination of authoritative editorials in the People’s Daily newspaper. When aligning this data with geopolitical developments, it becomes evident that the widespread use of the term “American West” corresponds with China’s strategic response to major external issues, including the Ukrainian crisis. Keyness analysis illuminates the semantic field of the narrative, demonstrating a qualitative, not just quantitative, change in discourse. Our findings suggest that the current discursive shift is primarily motivated by ideological factors. As Beijing reassesses potential threats, the “American West” narrative becomes a vital conceptual framework to foster societal cohesion. It aims to convey to the party apparatus and Chinese society the notion that China faces a more extensive challenge, surpassing the complexities in its relations with the United States. This paper underscores the significance of comprehending the multifaceted dynamics in China-US and China-West relations. As global risks and uncertainties persist and the Chinese Communist Party’s elite recalibrates strategic options, recognizing the shifting connotations of the “American West” concept is crucial for discerning China’s future trajectory.

Keywords: China, USA, West, narratives, discursive strategies, PRC foreign policy, orpus-based discourse analysis


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For citation:
Denisov I. The Chinese Narrative on the American West: Discursive Shift Amid Rising Foreign Policy Challenges. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2023, vol. 67, no. 11, pp. 112-126. EDN: KCHJGV

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