This study, based on the method of critical discourse analysis, examined the aspects of re/constructing the orders of discourse in the context of COVID-19 through the Global Times editorials. The research questions included: First, how have the headlines of the Global Times developed the construction of discursive patterns in the coronavirus phases for 60 days from January 19 to March 18, 2020? Second, what are the meanings and functions of the repetitive patterns of expression revealing the intertextuality of the editorials of the Global Times, and what events triggered those recursive patterns? Third, what are the strategies of politicization through the media war? The data included the editorials of the Global times during that period.
The results showed that first, the revealed discourse orders were intended to: 1) decrease the people’s criticism of the Chinese government, 2) intentionally establish a confrontation with the US to promote patriotism, and 3) politicize all matters through a fierce media war that brings people together and transfers their own responsibilities to the US.
Second, the essential expressions showing the intertextuality through the editorials pertained to “Nakjeong-Haseok,” meaning throwing a stone to a person fallen in a well, and “Donga-Byeongbu,” meaning the sick man of Asia. These two expressions are used repeatedly to form a patterned discourse practice and play a key role in China's effort to build a political image of moral superiority and justice. In other words, these two patterns of expression enable the Chinese public to unconsciously evoke immorality and unpleasantness about “Nakjeong-Haseok” and “Donga-Byeongbu.” Furthermore, these core expressions are recursively recalled in any relevant events for the conflicts between the US and China and thus, are entrenched in the Chinese minds, manipulating them so that they may believe in the legitimacy created by the discourse practice. Therefore, the constructed frame of discourse producing ideological distortion helps people pretend that everything that China does to the US is moral and just while whatever the US does to China looks immoral and unjust.
Third, the core politicization strategies through the media war lie in 1) the allegation of triggering a media war by the US and the formation of China's self-defense ideology and 2) threatening and conciliating as double-layered linguistic strategies. China continues constructing ideology in the six ‘media war’-related editorials that the US had been preemptively attacked. As they make excuses to blame the US for the sin of preemptive strikes, they intend to let the public know that they are morally superior. The media war is a problem related to the “face” of China. It is a war that saves their face but does not need to be pursued for a long time. As a result, the editorials reveal the intersection of the dual structure of the threat and conciliation. In conclusion, the “Sick Man of Asia” can be seen as a new version of the “Chinese Threat Ideology.” However, the hypothetical “Chinese Threat Ideology" has been transforming into “visible devastating Chinese threats” as the pandemic has spread worldwide.