Published online by Cambridge University Press: 20 November 2018
Much has been made over the past few years of China'vs ambitions of regaining control of its irredentist claims in the East and South China Seas. While some of this speculation focuses on the massive amounts of money the People's Republic of China (PRC) has funneled into its naval modernization program, other analysts are more interested in the drivers behind the increasingly popular sentiment that the country must “reclaim” its lost territories. The Chinese Communist Party can ill afford to ignore the voice of an already disenchanted population if it hopes to stay in power, particularly in regard to matters of national pride. As a result, in dealing with China's irredentist claims, nationalism in particular can be a powerful ideological factor in shaping the nation's foreign policies. This is especially apparent in the case of irredentism, where nationalism can often override diplomatic and strategic imperatives. This paper addresses the question of how does the nationalist discourse vary between two territorial disputes, the East and South China Seas. It uses discourse analysis to examine developing trends among online social media and news sites. This in turn allows for the construction of a framework of how nationalism develops among both elite and grassroots audiences.
All data have been culled from open-source materials and can be easily accessed via institutional subscriptions to academic journals. This paper is only being submitted to the Nationalities Papers for consideration and has received no outside funding. This is the sole work of the author, Jonathan Dixon, and contains nothing illegal, libelous, or fraudulent.
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