Monday, 29 October 2012

Anti-CNN and 'April Youth' in China

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In a recent article, Tao Zhang explores Anti-Western sentiment in youth-oriented Chinese on-line media. 

In the article, she starts by reflecting on how a pattern of nationalistic sentiment rather complicatedly articulated with anti-westernism has been an enduring feature of China’s political culture since its traumatic entry into industrial modernity during the 19th century. But as China, at the end of the 1970s, rushed to embrace market capitalism, it began a new phase in its complex encounter with the West. Caught within the contradictions of a globalized free market economy and continuing authoritarian political control, and exacerbated by the impact of the Internet in the 1990s, the cultural narrative linking national identity with a doctrinaire antipathy towards the West was put under increasing strain. She argues that this has not, however, resulted in the abandonment of anti-westernism as a cultural referent, but in the emergence of new, more complex forms. 

This chapter explores one manifestation of this: the so-called “cyber-nationalism” embraced since the 1990s by a relatively small but significant sector of educated Chinese young people both in China and overseas. She focuses on the example of one prominent Chinese youth website, “anti-CNN.com”, which was initially intended, ‘to expose the lies and distortions in the western media’ and its subsequent development into the far more comprehensive site, ‘M4.cn’ styling itself, ‘the first ever Chinese youth portal’.

Starting by sketching the historical formation of anti-western sentiment in the context of China’s passage to modernity from the nineteenth century to the present, she then analyses the emergence of ‘anti-CNN.com’ and its development into “M4.cn/April Youth”, focusing on its critique of alleged western bias in the reporting of China’s affairs. She develops an argument that places this within the broader context of neo-nationalism amongst the globalized post-1980s generation – the so-called Chinese ‘angry youth’ (‘fengqing’).

Tao Zhang (2012), ‘Anti-CNN.com and 'April Youth': Anti-Western sentiment in youth-oriented Chinese on-line media’  in Hernandez, L., ed., China and the West: Encounters with the other in Culture, Arts, Politics and Everyday life
Cambridge Scholars 1-16

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