Alastair Iain Johnston, “How New and Assertive Is China’s New Assertiveness?” International Security 37, no. 4 (Spring 2013): 7–48.
Why, then, does it matter whether PRC diplomacy as a whole in 2010 can or cannot be characterized as “newly assertive”? It may matter because language can affect internal and public foreign policy debates. There is a long-standing and rich literature on the role of the media in agenda setting. What does agenda setting mean in concrete terms? It means focusing attention on particular narratives, excluding others, and narrowing discourse. In the agenda setting literature, it refers to the power of information entrepreneurs to tell people “what to think about” and “how to think about it.” It can make or take away spaces for alternative descriptive and causal arguments, and thus the space for debates about effective policy. The prevailing description of the problem narrows acceptable options. Read more »