AbstractsPolitical Science

Indian Perceptions of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road: a Discourse Analysis

by Alphen HF Van

Institution: Leiden University
Year: 2015
Keywords: maritime silk road; discourse analysis; India; China; string of pearls; identity; threat perceptions; media representations; indian ocean region
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2066045
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/1887/34481


The People’s Republic of China’s (PRC’s) growing economic power has been frequently linked with its growing political and military power. Academic articles and Indian newspapers interpret China’s Maritime Silk Road (MSR) policy in threatening and in a non-threatening ways. The dominant discourse interprets the MSR from realist (strategic competition) and liberalist (economic cooperation) perspectives. However, the picture is not as clear-cut as it seems: the literature lacks a constructivist and poststructuralist approach. This paper attempts to fill this gap and considers the study of media representations as an important tool for understanding international relations and the promotion of foreign policy in India. It uses a poststructuralist discourse analysis as a method in the case study on the ‘China threat’ and MSR discourse in four online Indian newspapers. In line with French poststructuralist Foucault, it demonstrates the importance of discourse, identity, knowledge and power. The discursive construction of China as Other in the Indian media is based on historical identity formations. Identity is at the heart the ‘China threat’ discursive foundations: the ‘String of Pearls’ (SOP), India’s neighborhood, China-Pakistan relations and the ongoing Sino-Indian border dispute. In representing the ‘truth’ about the MSR as a future threat to India, the Indian media fails to address China’s participation in global anti-piracy missions. The ‘China threat’ discourse is produced and reproduced for India to domestically implement a strong strategic IOR policy, to invest in the army, and transnationally to deepen diplomatic ties with neighboring IOR countries and to establish a security alignment with the US and Japan. Advisors/Committee Members: Black, L.O (advisor).