Xinhua News Agency’s Coverage of the Kunming Railway Station Attack in the Context of Reshaping China’s National Identity

Through a comparative framing analysis of print media coverage of the Kunming Railway Station incident in March 2014, this article examines the Chinese state media’s attempted projection of a “new” China to the outside world. This projection is occurring in the context of the nation’s changing international status as the result of its rapid economic rise. It is observed that by calling this incident a terror attack, and even “China’s 9/11”, and by reporting condemnations and condolences from other countries, China clearly identifies itself as a victim of terror and expresses a strong wish to be recognised as a member of the mainstream international community. It is argued that Xinhua’s projection of China in its coverage reflects a new national identity that China is trying to develop, while legitimising its crackdown on Uyghur “terrorists”. However, the comparison with elite media sources in the West shows that Western governments and media may be reluctant to embrace China fully as a new member of the “international community”. While the Chinese government attempted to use the incident as a way of leveraging its position and status within the “international community”, and Xinhua supported this aim, the Western media appears to have quickly forgotten the incident and seems not to have supported China’s claims.

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