In/Commensurability in Chimerica : An Analysis of China’s Rhetorical Strategies in Diplomatic Conflicts with the U.S.
Niall Ferguson (2006), the British economist and author of The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World, coined the neologism “Chimerica” to identify the increasingly important and interdependent bilateral relationship between U.S. and China since Beijing emerged as the U.S.’s largest creditor and supplier of goods outside of North America. China’s contemporary cultural orientation draws primarily from Confucianism, a tradition that insists on order and cohesion. This predisposition contrasts sharply with the Aristotelian intellectual tradition of the West, and creates a constant source of friction between the two cultures. As China gains an equal economic footing with the West, and with the U.S. in particular, the sources of incommensurability between these cultures need to be understood more thoroughly to alleviate some of the conflict that would otherwise plague individual, organizational, and governmental communication spanning the two sides. This tension is evident in the editorial pages of the most important news outlets in China and the West. Focusing on selected editorials and drawing on Incommensurability Theory as an analytical framework, this research identifies some of the key cultural defaults, or commonplaces, that the Chinese government uses to guide its rhetorical position in diplomatic conflicts and the cultural roots of these default positions.