Bifurcated images of the U.S. in Urban China and the impact of media environment


Book Section

© 2012 Taylor & Francis. The Chinese public’s prevailing admiration and respect for the United States was widely observed in the 1980s when reforms first began. However, since the early 1990s significant anti-American sentiments have started to emerge in China. Such a dramatic shift in Chinese people’s attitudes toward the U.S. has significant implications for both U.S. domestic politics and foreign policies. Many politicians, journalists, and scholars have identified the increasing reliance of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) on nationalism for mobilizing political support, as well as its still firm control over the domestic mass media for propaganda campaigns, as critical factors driving this dramatic public opinion shift. Nevertheless, without systematic and appropriate empirical evidence, it is extremely difficult to adjudicate the validity of speculations on why such a change occurred. Taking advantage of a 2005 two-city survey in China with pertinent survey instruments, we (a) explored Chinese urban residents’ usage of different media sources, (b) examined the dimensionality of their evaluations of the U.S., and (c) scrutinized the impacts of Chinese urbanites’ usage of diversified media sources on their perceptions of the U.S. The findings show that people’s attitudes toward U.S. foreign policies can be clearly distinguished from their evaluations of American political institutions and socioeconomic achievements. Most importantly, our analyses also reveal that, embedded as they are in China’s partially transformed and partially diversified media environment, Chinese urban residents do not become pro-American (or vice versa) from the usage of alternative media sources beyond the CCP’s control.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Shi, T; Lu, J; Aldrich, J

Published Date

  • January 1, 2013

Book Title

  • Political Communication in China: Convergence or Divergence Between the Media and Political System

Start / End Page

  • 97 - 116

International Standard Book Number 13 (ISBN-13)

  • 9780203720165

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.4324/9780203720165

Citation Source

  • Scopus