Posted by Laura Fitch on September 14, 2009 04:59 PM
China’s upcoming 60th national day celebrations are an exercise in public perception.
Last year, the government focused on showing China’s best face to the world during the Olympics, with friendly volunteers assisting hapless tourists an increased press freedom (at least officially, if not in practice). Ads featuring smiling athletes and television commercials espousing world peace and harmony. This year, however, the message is a little different, as the Associated Press reported.
Upgraded intercontinental DF-31 nuclear missiles capable of striking Washington rolled on long-bed trucks along with advanced short-range DF-11 and DF-15 missiles, sea-skimming YJ-83 anti-ship missiles and DH-10 long-range cruise missiles — intended to strike targets in rival Taiwan and deter the U.S. Navy from coming to the island's defense. Not seen in the preview but expected to appear in a fly-over above Tiananmen Square are domestically produced J-10 jet fighters.
This year's clear message: we’re big, we’re bad, don’t mess with us. This shift in international and domestic posturing complicates China’s attempt to polish its national brand. Which image is the real China? Is it, or can it be, both? If branding is about truth, not deception, then how is China able to reconcile two diametrically opposed perceptions?
Which is it China—medals or missiles?