The “enemy” and neutrality in Chinese caricatures

The “enemy” and neutrality in Chinese caricatures

Article received: 2022.06.26. Accepted: 2023.01.11

DOI: 10.17976/jpps/2023.04.07

For citation:

Balakina J.V. The “enemy” and neutrality in Chinese caricatures. – Polis. Political Studies. 2023. No. 4. P. 89-104. (In Russ.). EDN: YMWVLA


The timeliness of the present research is determined by the undying relevance of political cartoons and their considerable political potential. The military-political crisis caused by the start of the special military operation brought about growing uncertainty and made cartoons an effective means of explaining complex issues in a simple way to general public. In the study 63 political cartoons published in the Chinese online newspaper “Global Times” (the English version) between 24.02.2022 and 01.06.2022 were scrutinized. The study relies on the agenda-setting theory and dependency theory. The interdisciplinary classifier proposed by N. Radina was adapted to the objectives of the research and comprised the following components: the topic of the cartoons, their targets, recognition, the subject of discussion, the correlation of the verbal and visual parts of cartoons, the concentration of humor, metaphors, precedent texts, intertextuality, frames, linguistic features, the type of impact and intention. The results indicate that throughout the period, the foreign as well as domestic policy of the United States was the main focus of the cartoons despite the changing news agenda. Furthermore, the cartoons confirm the neutral position of official China, all the while condemning the conflict as such. The cartoons directly point to the culprit of the conflict employing all available visual and linguistic means, and also emphasize the negative assessment of the actions of the “enemy” via such frames as aggression, intervention and destructive behavior. Thus, it can be concluded that the main intention of the published cartoons was to convey to the foreign audience the following position in a fairly straightforward manner: China condemns both the US’s foreign policy and domestic policy, defining the country not only as an “enemy” of China, but also of other countries, and accusing “Uncle Sam” of fueling the conflict, and the geopolitical crisis. One of the limitations of this analysis is the inability to conduct a full-fledged quantitative analysis. As perspectives for further research, the ongoing comparison of the key meanings derived from the messages transmitted to the Chinese audience seems relevant.

political cartoon, China, USA, conflict, frames, the image of the “enemy”, geopolitical crisis.


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Content No. 4, 2023

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