Intro | The Impact of Chinese National Identity on Bilateral Relations


The construct “Chinese national identity” refers to narratives from China’s leadership, media, and academic spokespersons about what makes their country distinctive and how those ideas matter in relations with other nations. This is a relational concept that serves to distinguish the “self” and “other,” whose interpretation is shaped by interactions with other states. Seen from the vertical dimension of identity, these interactions are filtered through rhetoric aimed at promoting unity at home. Demonizing other nations while conveying an image of enemies or states seeking to contain China is a means to boost solidarity behind Communist Party control over a society with little means to dissent. The horizontal dimension of identity depicts bilateral relations as the result not of different national interests, but of clashing and often irreconcilable identities. Examining the way national identity on the Chinese side impacts five external relationships is the objective of this set of articles, which concentrate on Chinese rhetoric during the period of Xi Jinping.

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