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Analysis of French perspective (L’Express)
The following observation emerged when collecting data from L’Express compared with the two Anglo-American newsmagazines, Time and The Economist, in that it is comparatively more difficult to find articles relating to China and the economy in L’Express in the year 2010. Thus, 12 articles (F1C- F12C) are collected from the newsmagazine L’Express and the remaining eight (F13C-F20C) from the monthly L'Expansion. The latter was a French newsmagazine that belonged to LExpress Group and was discontinued in 2017 due to poor sales figures.
Based on Van Dijk’s macro-rules to yield the macro-structure, Table 2A.3 in the Appendix shows the prevailing topics of the 20 headlines about China in the year 2010. All the 20 topics are derived from the use of the ‘generalisation’ macro-rule. The top prevailing topic, from the French perspective, is by far the issue related to international trade and currency (nine headlines: F5C, F8C, F11C, F12C, F13C, F15C, F18C, F19C, and F20C). The other less prominent topics are Shanghai, the posterchild (three headlines: F2C, F3C, and F4C), China-Japan bilateral relations (two headlines: F6C and F7C), Franco-China bilateral relations (two headlines: F9C and F10C), new world order (two headlines: F14C and F16C), China-US bilateral relations (one headline: F1C) and the automotive industry (one headline: F17C).
For purposes of simplicity, China-Japan bilateral relations, Franco-China bilateral relations, and China-US bilateral relations are merged into one single overarching generic topic; in other words, there are altogether five headlines that express the topic bilateral relations and this is the second most prevalent topic across the 20 sampled headlines in L’Express.
Inclusion and exclusion
The key actors include the Chinese and non-Chinese, such as the US, France, the UK, Germany, Europe, the West, Japan, and Africa. The statistics of inclusion and exclusion of the agent Chinese and non-Chinese actors are shown in Table 2.17.
Table 2.17 shows that the agency of the Chinese actor is included more frequently than it is excluded. At a frequency of 90%, the Chinese agent actor is included the most regularly, nine-fold larger than the most highly represented non-Chinese actor, Japan (10%). Apart from the Japanese actor, the US, France, and Africa are also included at a rate of 5% each. The agency of Germany, Europe, the UK, and the West, however, is included at a frequency of 0%.
Table 2.17 Inclusion/exclusion of agent actors in frequency and percentage (LExpress)
Table 2.18 Exclusion of agent social actors (LExpress)
When it comes to the exclusion of actors in the headlines, the Chinese are excluded at a rate of 10%, similarly with the US. The agency of France, the UK, Germany, Europe, the West, Japan, and Africa, however, is excluded at a rate of 0%. This inclusion and exclusion pattern suggests that the Chinese- along with the American and Japanese, albeit at a much lower frequency - are the predominant participants under focus across the sampled articles and is thus attributed with more representational categories than the other social actors. From Table 2.17, another observation can be made: the Chinese are 100% depicted as an active participant in the headlines (through 90% inclusion and 10% exclusion). The following are some examples of the exclusion of Chinese and American actor agency pertaining to the international trade and currency topic:
In the representational category of exclusion, there are the radical (total deletion or suppression) and the less radical (partial or backgrounding) variants. Table 2.18 shows that L’Express backgrounds the agency of the Chinese (10%) and American (10%) social actors in issues relating to international trade and currency, thus delaying their appearance related to the actions mentioned in the headlines. This has the effect of reducing explicit references to the agency of an action, thus de-emphasising the social actors. However, they are still subsequently referred to in the lead and main texts underneath the headlines concerned.
There are two methods that L’Express uses to realise less radical exclusion or backgrounding: the use of (i) process nouns (F18C) and (ii) adverbs (F19C). In F18C, for instance, the process nouns ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ are used, which are formed from the normalisation of the verbs ‘to win’ and ‘to lose’, without revealing the identity of those that have benefited or have been disadvantaged by the conflict over currency valuation. The other method is through the adverb ‘how’ (F19C), which functions as a grammatical subject without having to explicitly refer to the agents. In both instances, the strategy of backgrounding the actors emphasises an unequal trade relationship, where the interests of a group of trading partners have been compromised by the beneficiary group.
Now that the process of inclusion and exclusion of agent social actors has been examined, Table 2.19 shows the frequency distribution of the key nonagent social actors.
When attention is shifted to the non-agency of social actors, a pattern emerges: European countries and areas, such as France, Germany, and Europe, are included at 10%, 5%, and 5%, respectively, while the Chinese, American, British, Western, Japanese, and African actors are included at 0%. This pattern points to a higher incidence of European actors, particularly the French, being at the receiving end of an activity. Here are some examples of the included French non-agent actors:
1. The servility of France makes us an accomplice of the Chinese F10C
2. China, the top source of counterfeits in France F15C
In the process of exclusion, Table 2.19 shows that the non-agency of all actors, with the exception of the Chinese and the Africans, is excluded. The frequency
Table 2.19 Inclusion/exclusion of non-agent actors in frequency and percentage (L’Express)
Trade conflict in Western newsmagazines 65 Table 2.20 Exclusion of non-agent social actors (L'Express)
patterns seem to suggest the formation of two main groups: China versus the rest (the US, France, the UK, Germany, Europe, Japan, and the West), which is in line with Van Dijk’s ideological dichotomy of in- and out-groups.
Table 2.20 shows that L’Express predominantly relies on the backgrounding of the American, French, German, European, and Japanese non-agent actors. This reduces explicit references to the non-agents in association with the activity mentioned in the headlines. Their traces, however, can still be found in the headlines since they are mentioned later in the lead and main texts. The following are some examples of the exclusion of American actor non-agency:
In F11C, for instance, L’Express avoids mentioning the country by indicating instead the names of the American and European aerospace companies (Boeing and Airbus, respectively), which will be compromised by China’s action. Through the use of figurative language, such as the action verb ‘to nibble at’, China is depicted as a beneficiary in the international trade and currency issue, at the expense of the others. In addition, the adverb ‘how’ puts the emphasis on the means by which China seeks to enrich itself while undermining its trade competitors.
It is to be noted, however, that the verb ‘nibble’ means taking very small bites. This could also suggest that China will make some progress but that this will be very small and will not seriously affect Airbus or Boeing. It also brings connotations of a small animal, since this word is typically used when talking about, for example, a mouse.
The American non-agent actor is also excluded in the new world order topic from L'Express, which uses the nouns ‘master’ and ‘power’ to describe China and avoids explicit reference to the non-agents. Consequently, this renders it difficult for the reader to determine the patient of China’s economic catch-up.
For instance, F14C seeks to answer the question of whether China will be replacing the US as the world’s largest economic power, while F16C asks whether China has indeed overtaken Japan - the other actor that has been backgrounded - to become the second-largest economy.
When analysing the non-agency of the French and German actors it can be observed that by evoking common projects (Airbus and the eurozone) undertaken by France and Germany without specifically naming them, L’Express depicts both actors as patients undergoing the same action from China in issues relating to international trade and currency. Furthermore, the adverb ‘how’ (FI 1C) and the pronoun ‘why’ (F20C) have the effect of emphasising China’s action and alienating the French reader from it, since it is represented as potentially harmful to Franco- German interests. Here are two examples of the exclusion of French and German non-agency: