The aesthetic power of ships in international political communication: why ships matter in China’s communication of the Maritime Silk Road Initiative

Carolijn van Noort*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

This article argues that closer attention to the objects visualised in China’s international political communication of the Maritime Silk Road Initiative (MSRI) will add new knowledge of China’s global media strategies. Particularly, it contends that the creation of specific visual depictions of ships carries great significance in China’s strategic narratives of the MSRI. The argument suggests that these visuals help Beijing to legitimise their maritime transport and foreign investments in ports as part of a liberal agenda and to forge its maritime identity as a peaceful trading country with historical roots. This approach is based on the premise that ships in international political communication have aesthetic power. Greater understanding of the social and compositional modalities of ships in China’s communication provides valuable insights into how China tries to legitimise the MSRI, but also the complexity for China to avoid aesthetic vulnerability considering the existence of competing (visual) narratives.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages22
JournalGlobal Society
Early online date17 Jun 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Jun 2021

Keywords

  • China
  • Maritime Silk Road Initiative
  • ships
  • strategic narratives
  • visual communication

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