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Reviewed by:
  • Political Communications in Greater China: The Construction and Reflection of Identity
  • Junhao Hong (bio)
Gary D. Rawnsley and Ming-Yeh T. Rawnsley, editors. Political Communications in Greater China: The Construction and Reflection of Identity. London and New York: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003. xi, 326 pp. Hardcover $114.95, ISBN 0-7007-1734-x.

Political communication is a relatively new field in communication studies. But in recent years, while historical, political, institutional, and behavioral studies of political communication have been conducted with increasing frequency in the West, political communication has seldom been a topic of research in most non Western countries. This edited volume of essays represents a concerted effort to examine a new subject, the role of political communication, in a new setting, Greater China—a term coined to include China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the overseas Chinese communities scattered across the globe—in a new context, the relationship between the self-identity and integration of these Chinese societies.

This volume is thus an important contribution to studies of political communication in general and to Chinese communication studies in particular. Although a great deal of research has been done already on the media and communications in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, there has been little of such scope as to involve all Chinese societies. Also, despite the many existing studies on the media and communications in these societies, few have focused on political communication. Moreover, in the last few years all Chinese societies have been undergoing the process or facing the issue of integration; thus, the publication of this collection is especially timely. It not only provides an interesting case study for both political communication studies in general and Chinese communication studies in particular but gives valuable insights on the decisive factors in the integration of these Chinese societies as well. Furthermore, the central theme of the book is the role of political communication in the construction and reflection of identity in Greater China, a topic that has not heretofore adequately been examined. As the editors claim, through an exploration of the patterns and impact of political communication in these Chinese societies this book attempts to propose that identity, rather than status as nation-state or some other political entity, is the key factor in achieving or furthering integration, because it is identity within and between these Chinese societies that plays a central role in bringing about integration. This is an important hypothesis, although more evidence is needed to prove it.

In this book, political communication in Greater China is observed and analyzed in four sections, devoted, respectively, to China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and in the overseas Chinese communities. The fifteen essays included here are all written by renowned scholars or media practitioners from various parts of the [End Page 162] world. These contributions illustrate varied aspects of the media and communications in Chinese societies, ranging from the significance of Greater China, the rise of Chinese nationalism, and party politics in Taiwan to the dilemma of Hong Kong's media, the public sphere of the overseas Chinese, and globalization and emancipation in Greater China. The discussions they offer are realistic and thoughtful.

The essay by John Copper is a synthetic overview of the history of Greater China that analyzes the political, cultural, and economic significance of this amorphous entity, suggesting that although Greater China has no definite center and is not a homogeneous unit, it does have a real identity as a cultural and economic community that could conceivably evolve into a real political entity, and thus it deserves greater attention.

Among the three essays on China proper, the one by Yu Huang and Chin Chuan Lee is an excellent study that examines the creation of identity in China and analyzes the nation's understanding of itself by exploring the political ramifications of communications under the communist system and by demonstrating the importance of mediated identities in reinforcing communist political legitimacy. The essay by Neil Renwick and Qing Cao is a convincing discourse analysis of why political discourse is crucial to China's ruling political party, proposing that objectified discursive power remains an influential factor in Chinese politics. The essay by Hugo de Burgh depicts how journalists in China view...


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