Knowledge, Desire and Power in Global Politics
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Knowledge, Desire and Power in Global Politics

Western Representations of China’s Rise

Chengxin Pan

Knowledge, Desire and Power in Global Politics is the first systematic and deconstructive analysis of contemporary Western representation of China’s rise. Setting itself apart from the mainstream empiricist literature, its critical interpretative approach and unconventional and innovative perspective will not only strongly appeal to academics, students and the broader reading public, but also likely spark debate in the field of Chinese international relations.
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Chapter 4: The ‘China threat’ and the political economy of fear

Chengxin Pan


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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