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Making Sense of Canada’s Public Image in China *

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image of Journal of American-East Asian Relations

A country’s image is the product largely of one nation’s socially constructed perception (or misperception) of another nation. A country’s image may seem politically insignificant, but its image and associated identity are often socially meaningful and have an important impact on the overall milieu for narratives and discourses in international relations. This essay intends to make sense of Canada’s image among Chinese. It first defines the concept of “image” and specifically Canada’s image in China. Then, through examination of various aspects of image-making, such as symbolic individual figures, media venues, and popular topics, this article seeks to deconstruct this image. It argues that the Canadian image is important for Sino-Canadian relations because a country’s image and reputation are among the most valuable assets its people possess and a key component of soft power. The political weight of public image, however, is more the product of a country’s importance and less its image. For example, compared to the relatively negative public image of the United States in China, Canada’s more positive public image does not make it more important to China’s government or its people.

Affiliations: 1: University of Regina, Email:


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