China's National Image Puzzle: The Construction of China's Environmental Image in Le Monde

  • Author / Creator
    Chen, Guangfeng
  • Despite China's central role in environmental issues on both domestic and international levels and the importance that the country attaches to its national image abroad, few studies have investigated China's national image in the environmental domain on the international scene, and almost none in the Francophone world. With the goals of shedding light on this topic and enlarging the Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) literature on French news discourses, this thesis conducts a CDA study of French news on environmental issues related to China to reflect a "western" view of China. A rigid selection process of relevant news articles from the elite French newspaper Le Monde (which was selected for its special status among French media) resulted in 24 news texts on air pollution covering 2013, 2014 and 2015, and 19 news texts on climate change covering 2009 and 2015. By adapting two analytical frameworks, Social Actor Representation (van Leeuwen, 1996) and the Appraisal Theory (Martin & White, 2005), to the analysis of French discourse, this study conducted detailed quantitative and qualitative textual analyses to these news articles. The study found that China's image constructed in Le Monde was fluid depending on the environmental issue in question. Regarding the issue of air pollution, Le Monde has represented China as a domestic actor. Between 2013 and 2015, an invariably negative image of China was constructed, following a script of a dichotomy between an inactive government and a victimized population. In contrast, Le Monde's representations of China in climate change in 2009 and in 2015 have experienced a drastic shift. In 2009, China was negatively portrayed as a country to be held most responsible in tackling climate change along with the US but who was passive in dealing with climate change, as an enemy to be destroyed rather than an opponent to be recognized. However, in 2015, China was represented as a supporter or promoter of climate change negotiations with positive evaluations. An examination of Le Monde's representation of China vis-à-vis the Chinese context found that on the one hand, Le Monde's representation of China did not appear to be about what/who China is, and on the other, it did not necessarily fit into general French or European environmental belief either. The key to a full understanding of Le Monde's representation of China seems to lie in Le Monde's identity, which would be revealed in interviews with the journalists and in contextual analysis of the French media, informed by communication theories and other social theories.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2018
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Specialization
    • French language, literature and linguistics
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Ruth Breeze (Instituto Cultura y Sociedad, University of Navarra, Spain)
    • Lynn Penrod (Department of Modern Languages & Cultural Studies, University of Alberta)
    • Xiaoting Li (Department of East Asian Studies, University of Alberta)
    • Jennifer Daily-O'Cain (Department of Modern Languages & Cultural Studies, University of Alberta)
    • Thomas Barker (Faculty of Extension, University of Alberta)