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Rebordering Britain & Britons after Brexit

Focusing on political and civil concerns in news media? European refugee issue seen from China


The European refugee issue has become one of the major topics in Europe’s media narratives, its public discourses, and political debates, particularly in the peak period from late summer 2015 to the migration worries driving the Brexit referendum vote in June 2016. This study examines what image Chinese newspapers projects of the EU as a global actor against the backdrop of the refugee issue. The focus is on the coverage of the political and civil responses in European societies toward the issue and the actors and factors behind these responses. Based on a content analysis of 536 news articles from four Chinese newspapers spanning from 2015 to 2017, this study found that Chinese media portrayed a fairly unwelcoming attitude from both political and civil society actors in Europe towards refugees, though civil society actors tend to be more welcoming than political actors. The place of the event, reference to religion, i.e., Muslims, non-Muslims, and Christian, and threat themes, i.e., economic threat, security threat, cultural threat, and health threat, affect Chinese media representation of the European refugee issue, and these factors showed a different concern pattern from political and civil societies. However, the portrayed unwelcoming responses toward the refugee issue do not seem to harm the images of the EU as a Union of integrity and a global actor in Chinese news media. The study concludes with a discussion on the image of the EU as a global actor in Chinese news as well as limitations and directions for future research. © 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.


Asia Europe Journal


Shujun Jiang (United Arab Emirates)
Li Zhang (China)

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