Chapter 4: The ‘China threat’ and the political economy of fear
POWER/KNOWLEDGE AND THE POLITICS OF FEAR The twin paradigms of China threat and China opportunity are animated by Western/American neocolonial desire. Their constructions of self and Other are not merely discursive in nature, but have political and strategic conse-quences. Rather than divorced from power, they are always in the service of power and at the same time (re)produced by it through the political econo-mies of fear and fantasy. How knowledge, desire, and power interact in the cases of these China paradigms will be the focus of Chapters 4-7. Thus far, scholarly analysis of Western representations of China has tended to treat those representations merely as knowledge, which is then empirically evaluated against so-called ‘objective facts’ in China. Depending on whether they are thought to match Chinese reality or not, they are labelled either ‘truth’, ‘misrepresentations’, or something in between. But this empiri-cally-grounded approach misses a crucial point. That is, it leaves intact and unquestioned the complicity of China knowledge in power relations.
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