Facing up to China

The Economist - February 2010

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Panel comments

1. Content
i. Symbols of significance
Human and dragon

ii. Area(s) in society that the symbols belong to
The symbols belong to the area of politics. It delivers the message concerning China-US relationship since the dragon represents China and on the other side is Obama, the US president.

iii. Quantitative assessment
1 Person—Obama, 1 dragon

2. Communication
i. Image/symbol(s) used to symbolize China
The smiling young man and the Great Wall are used to symbolize China. What’s special in this cover is that the smiling young man is holding up a bottle of Coca Cola, which was quite novel to most Chinese during the 1980s.

ii. Key connotations and denotations
The dragon on the cover represents China and it is much bigger than Obama. Also the dragon looks every angry and therefore the cover delivers the message of China threat. However, although Obama is trying to talk with an uncivilized nation symbolized by the angry dragon, he is not afraid of it.

iii. Interpretations of the key symbols, with focus on Chinese culture
On the cover, the dragon is used to symbolize China. There are many connotations of dragon in China. Firstly, dragon means yang qi, the spring, rainwater, etc. Secondly, dragon symbolizes royal power. Moreover, Chinese people believe that dragon can help bring prosperity. However, the dragon on the cover is not a typical Chinese dragon (Long), it is the kind of dragon from the perspective of westerners who often believe that the dragon is evil. Also, on the cover, the dragon is much bigger than Obama, which implies that China is a threat. The Chinese side is represented by a dragon which is an animal whereas US side is symbolized by Obama who looks like a gentleman. It seems that US side is talking with a dangerous and uncivilized nation.

iv. Power relations in the image
Unequal relationship shown on the cover because the dragon is much bigger than Obama.

v. Kind of communication

vi . Nature of relation between “China” and "others"
The relation between “China” and others is hostile. Because firstly, the dragon which symbolizes China on the cover is evil. Secondly, the dragon is much bigger than Obama. It means the relationship between the dragon and Obama is unequal. It shows that China is a big threat and other countries are afraid of China.

3. Additional comments
i. Images/colors, etc
The dragon and Obama on the cover are not equal since the dragon is much bigger than Obama. In that case, the relationship between the dragon and Obama is unequal and it gives the readers the impression that China is quite terrible. Also, the dragon is actually the focus of the cover, which is with sharp teeth and is smoking. The dragon in China is kind of water dragon, which means that it can emit water instead of smoking. In that case, the dragon on the cover is not Chinese dragon(Long), it is a dragon in the eyes of westerners which means evil.

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

iii. Comment about supporting image

iv. Comments about heading
The headline of the cover is “Facing up to China”, which means the author is from the standpoint of the US. At the same time, it shows that China-threat exists indeed.

4. Rating of cover image

5. Other comments

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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.