The world has seen China’s remarkable economic growth, its increasing military power and rising global influence since the end of the 1970s. Based on this background, this study is interested in Western media representations of China’s rise in the 21st century. The specific focus is how China’s rise is portrayed in one of the Canada’s national newspapers, the Globe and Mail, from 2001 to 2015. This study used a mixed-methods approach: a quantitative content analysis of 243 Globe and Mail editorials and a critical discourse analysis of approximately 20 percent of the data set. The findings revealed that China’s image presented in the Globe and Mail is paradoxical. The portrayals of China as an “important economic partner” and an “authoritarian communist country” coexisted in the newspaper’s editorials, with more emphasis on critiquing its role as an “authoritarian communist country”. This study argues that this divisive perspective of China is due to the newspaper’s Western-based understandings of liberal democratic capitalism. It assumes that the combination of market freedom and democratic political freedom is inevitable, and the pair is universal and appealing for every modern society. However, China’s triumphant combination of market economics and the one-party state challenges their assumptions and forces the Western media to reconsider the relationship between market economics and liberal democracy. This study argues that liberal democratic capitalism is not universal and that liberal democracy should be taken in context.
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