As the COVID-19 Pandemic rages on in varying degrees worldwide, the debate surrounding the virus's origin has gained steady credence. The various gaps in information regarding the origin and spread of the virus have led to an image problem for China. For decades, China has been perceived as a rising power, and the varying nature of power wielded by its image has been forecast. A glaring mismatch has emerged between the news reportage from China and media coverage worldwide, casting a shadow on its positive image in the ongoing pandemic. While news reportage from China creates a simulacrum of a responsible and cooperative 'self', in contrast, western media coverage continues to unravel ambiguities in China's claims, pitching China as the 'other' in world politics. A pertinacious representation of a 'loveable' China on the one hand and the unreliable, duplicitous China, on the other hand, have led to an 'image war' for China that is going to be long drawn with significant ramifications. This paper analyses news coverage in two western dailies and two Chinese dailies (in English) regarding the virus's origin since the Pandemic outbreak in January 2020. It focuses on two aspects- the most dominant frames used and their impact on China's image. Through a qualitative content analysis of the online editions of The New York Times, The Guardian, People's Daily and The Global Times, the framing and agenda-setting are investigated to compare and contrast China's image construction on either side. This paper builds on the tradition of studying images in international relations by positing perceived and associated images constructed in this case.
About the Speaker
Rityusha Mani Tiwary is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Political Science, Shaheed Bhagat Singh College of the University of Delhi and a Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Chinese Studies, Delhi. Additionally, she is the Assistant Editor of the flagship journal of the Institute- China Report: A Journal of East Asian Studies. She holds a PhD in Chinese Studies from the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Her research has focused on unpacking the interplay of power and hegemony in East Asian regionalism and China's role therein. Her broad research interests include studying foreign policy, diplomacy, border and conflict with a comparativist approach for India and China.She has been awarded Visiting Fellowships at the German Institute of Global and Area Studies, Hamburg; Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, Shanghai and Politics and International Studies Department, University of Cambridge, UK. In addition, she was the recipient of the Young Sinologist Fellowship offered by the Ministry of Culture, China, and earlier, the Department of State, USA, awarded her the International Visitor Leadership Program.
About the Chair
Jabin T. Jacob is Associate Professor at the Department of International Relations and Governance Studies at the Shiv Nadar University and Adjunct Research Fellow at the National Maritime Foundation. He was formerly Fellow and Assistant Director at the ICS. He is a PhD supervisor at the Naval War College, Goa and was co-editor, most recently, of the volume titled, China's Search for 'National Rejuvenation': Domestic and Foreign Policies under Xi Jinping. Some of his work can be found at https://indiandchina.com/
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