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UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

One truth, two minds, and three tongues : conflicting media representations of the 2010 Chinese rare earth controversy Chen, Justine Yi-Hsuan


On September 7, 2010, a Chinese fishing trawler collided with two Japanese Coast Guard patrol vessels near the Pinnacle Islands in the East China Sea, a territory claimed by both China and Japan. Following the arrest of the Chinese fishermen and the prolonged detention of the Chinese captain by the Japanese maritime authority, the collision incident escalated into a diplomatic showdown between the two countries. Eventually, challenged with China’s reported halting of Japan-bound rare earth metals export, vital raw materials for many Japanese industry sectors, the Japanese government conceded and released the captain. A flood of conflicting reports on China's handling of the event ensued. On the one hand, outside of China, criticisms focused on China’s political manipulation of trade and resource protectionism were rampant; on the other hand, the Chinese media denied any claims of embargo, shied away from discussing the collision, and focused on delineating China’s rare earth policy challenges. Nevertheless, many facts surrounding China's rare earth policy have been overlooked, misrepresented, misinterpreted, or misreported. By analyzing government policy documents, as well as news articles collected from Factiva and Lexis-Nexis databases and Chinese websites, this thesis looks at the discrepancies between major Western and Chinese media reporting and representations of the 2010 Rare Earth Controversy specifically, and of China's rare earth policy in general. In the process, the thesis also presents the institutional, social, and political and economic complexities surrounding China's rare earth policy making.

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