Winning the Cold War has given the United States renewed self-confidence: “bound to lead,” as Joseph S.Nye (1990) tellingly describes it. It also signified the dissolution of strategic alliance against the Soviet Union between the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the United States. China has stepped in to be perceived as a hurdle to reconstructing the neo-liberal world order (Burchill, 1996), which the United States has adorned with “its redolent self-congratulation, its unconcealed triumphalism, and its grave proclamations of responsibility” (Said, 1993: xvii). Alongside public outrage in the United States over the Tiananmen suppression and its aftermath, Beijing was suspicious of Washington’s embarking on a policy of peaceful evolution aimed at China (Harding, 1992:11). The growth of China’s economic and military power, mixed with statist nationalism, has not earned Beijing the international recognition it covets, but has instead aroused regional if not world concern. A series of alarmingly virulent academic and journalistic discourses appeared in the United States, ranging from Fukuyama’s (1992) “end of history,” Huntington’s (1993) “clash of civilizations” to Bernstein and Munro’s (1997) bellicose theme of “coming conflict with China,” which coincided and clashed violently with strident, hysterical anti-American writings in China about China Can Say No and Behind the Demonization of China (see Huang and Lee, 2002; Chang, 2001). Mutual recrimination foregrounded the media discourses of the 1990s. In this chapter, I shall present a discourse analysis of the New York Times’s opinion landscape, both its editorials and columns, from 1990 to 2000 (for a total of eleven years) to illuminate what I shall call the “established pluralism” of its narratives about U.S.-China relations. 1

Managing democracy and capitalism

The foreign policy of the United States has always been marked by an extraordinary hybridity of idealism, moralism, pragmatism, and imperial impulse dating back to the ideology of “manifest destiny.” Harboring no territorial ambition abroad but seeking political, economic, and cultural influence, the United States thinks of itself as “exceptional” rather than imperial, colonial, or hegemonic. During the Cold War, the hierarchy of its foreign policy aims included anti Communism and the diffusion of capitalist democracy in the name of modernization, with democracy subordinated to the overarching anti-Communist objectives, such that Washington frequently found itself supporting right-wing dictatorships while also championing democracy as a secondary

agenda within its sphere of influence (Lee, 2001:10). As a self-avowed guardian of democracy and Western civilization, the United States perceives itself as “a righter of wrongs around the world, in pursuit of tyranny, in defense of freedom no matter the place or cost” (Said, 1993:5). The United States was at the forefront of the East-West conflicts, battling fiercely against the Communists, but was hostile to the South-North confrontations in which a majority of poor countries held Washington responsible for the unequal distribution of economic and information resources in the world.