China geburt einer weltmacht

Der Spiegel - October 2004

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Panel comments

1. Content
i. Symbols of significance
2 symbols of significance in this cover, the dragon and the planet

ii. Area(s) in society that the symbols belong to
Under the context of International situation, the Dragon usually belongs to the area of Politics or culture; The Planet usually belongs to the area of geography.

iii. Quantitative assessment
1 dragon and 1 planet.

2. Communication
i. Image/symbol(s) used to symbolize China
The Dragon here is used to symbolize China, and this is an aggressive dragon that is tearing the Planet apart.

ii. Key connotations and denotations
The (re)-emergence of China as an important global player may bring damage to the world.

iii. Interpretations of the key symbols, with focus on Chinese culture
The dragon is forcing open the egg-like Planet, just like the dragon is new born which may insinuate the re-emergance of China. But the action of the dragon is so brutal and aggressive that it damages the "egg-like" planet. The planet seems to be so vulnerable as to be teared into two parts, one is the West, and the other is the East. In this image, the dragon is depicted as a aggressive and brutal dragon which brings damage, or even disaster.
The dragon in this cover, is distorted both physically and culturally.
First, the image of the Dragon here is quite different from that of the Chinese dragon. The Chinese dragon is a legendary creature, combing the horns of a deer, the head of a camel, his eyes those of a demon, the body of a snake, his belly of a tortoise, the scales of the carp, the claws the eagle, the soles of a tiger and the ears of the cow. The body of the Chinese dragon resembles that of the snake, which is long and thin, even the belly is slender. But here in this picture, the dragon has a large belly, which made it look like the Western evil dragon. What’s more, the dragon here stands like a kangaroo; it’s funny, since the Chinese dragon never stands like this. Besides coiling or twisting his body, the Chinese dragon usually snakes in sky with clouds, or under the water. It can fly or stand with the long body like horizontal curved lines (see the right picture under “supporting images"). From our point of view, it’s a Western style dragon.
Secondly, the Chinese Dragon is always related to supreme power and auspicious cultural meaning, while not damage and aggression. In China, the dragon used to be used to symbolize supreme authority in the feudal societies. Under this context, the dragon was considered to be noble and supreme, and only the royal families have the qualification to utilize the image of dragon. But in nowadays China, the dragon is usually used to symbolize auspiciousness. What the dragon brings is good luck, fortune and happiness.For example, the dragon, often associated with the phoenix appears in the Chinese wedding to bring good luck and happiness. But here in this cover, the dragon looks quite evil, which is completely different from the Chinese dragon.

iv. Power relations in the image
In this cover, we can see that the power relation is unequal, since the dragon, which represents China, forces open the whole planet without much effort. It put China and all the other countries on the same level, which is not an accurate description. Moreover, the Planet is drawn to be much smaller than the dragon, which is unbalanced.

v. Kind of communication
Multilateral. This image involves China and many other countries, so it shows multilateral communication.

vi . Nature of relation between “China” and "others"
Hostile, as the action of the dragon is brutal and aggressive.

3. Additional comments
i. Images/colors, etc
The color of the dragon is different from the color of the Chinese dragon, which is usually golden. The orange like color of this dragon looks much like the Western style dragon.

ii. Group of images
It belongs both the the group that use the (western) dragon.

iii. Comment about supporting image

iv. Comments about heading
The heading of this cover is “China: Geburt einer Weltmacht”, which means: “China: the Birth of A Superpower”. The heading strengthens the idea of “China Threat”, which is harmful to dialogue.

4. Rating of cover image
as the image depicts a China as uncivilized and brutal.

5. Other comments

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Supporting images

Illustration to text: The shape of a Chinese dragon

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Rating categories:
1. Hostile: An image that portrays China as impossible to have a dialogue with.
2. Not open to dialogue: An image that portrays China in a way where it is possible, but not likely, to have a dialogue.
3. Neutral: An image that does not say anything about the possibility for dialogue
4. Open to dialogue: An image that portrays China in a way where there is an openness to dialogue.
5. Very open to dialogue: An image that portrays China in a way where there is an active interest in a dialogue.