Educating the U.S. on the "China Threat"

invitation only · Webinar · 11.12.2020 14:00 - 15:15

invitation only

In a recent Pew Research Center poll, 73% of the U.S. respondents said they have a negative view on China, and 26% considered China as an enemy. Against the backdrop of an economic and health crisis caused by COVID-19, harsh China rhetoric utilized in the U.S. presidential election campaign, and media exposure given to instances of Chinese “wolf warrior” diplomacy, it is no surprise that public attitudes are hardening.

However, there have also been intense efforts at “educating” the U.S. public, media, politicians, and dissenting academics about the threat China – or rather, the Chinese Communist Party – poses to the United States. This seminar talk focuses on representations of threat: the means and rhetoric the “educators” utilize in order to induce threat perception. Besides China’s material capabilities, intentions, rhetoric, and actions, the educators tend to emphasize the differences in ideology and identity between China and the United States. In so doing, they often invoke the cultural memory of both the “Yellow Peril” and “Red Scare.”


Henna-Riikka Pennanen

Postdoctoral researcher, John Morton Center, University of Turku

Pennanen is a TIAS (Turku Institute for Advanced Studies) postdoctoral researcher, working at the John Morton Center for North American Studies.

She received her Ph.D. in History from the University of Jyväskylä in 2015. Before joining the JMC in 2017, Pennanen held fixed-term positions as Post-Doctoral Researcher and Project Coordinator in the Department of History and Ethnology at the University of Jyväskylä. Pennanen’s Ph.D. dissertation analyzed U.S. conceptions of civilization in the context of 19th-century Chinese and Japanese studies. Her recent research themes include U.S. imaginations of the Japanese and Chinese “yellow peril,” the idea of "the West," and the liberal international order.


Charly Salonius-Pasternak

Leading researcher