When The following part introduces background information about

When
confronted with external threats, how have governments built frames to shape
public opinion? What are experience and effects of particular frames in
political preferences? Governments might have taken mixed approaches with a
dominant use of framing under ambiguity as a part of their propaganda to
protect the regime and core interests, foster loyalty yet control nationalism, manage
dedicate balance and ensure autonomy. To test the prediction, this paper will take
an inductive approach to look at existing framing models and examine Vietnam’s
propaganda strategies for South China Sea-related issues from 2014 to 2017, in
comparison with that of China, Australia and the United States.The
world has paid scant attention to the sporadic skirmishes and sovereignty
squabbles in the South China Sea for years. After a number of noteworthy
happenings, the issue increasingly matters not only claimants but also
interested parties. The following part introduces background information about
this issue of Vietnam, China, Australia and the United States with regards to
framing strategy.  VietnamMaritime
issues are highly complicated and sensitive in Vietnam. There is greater need
for Vietnam to rely on propaganda to bolster legitimacy, enhance its image, and
reinforce the perception of stability and harmony because Vietnam is an
authoritarian system with weak regime legitimacy, numerous domestic problems
and lack of strong treaty allies, which makes the country particularly
vulnerable compared to its peers in conflicts in the South China Sea. For
decades, Vietnam’s propaganda system has nonstop framed some major ideas including:
“The Spratlys and the Paracels belong to Vietnam;” and “conflicts in the South
China Sea – Vietnam labels it the East Sea, are “territorial invasions”; and “Vietnam
is an innocent claimant”. The Government never informs its peoples of the fact
that Vietnam has landfilled more South China Sea islets than China itself – it
holds 21 tiny islets in the Spratly archipelago, more than any of its regional
rivals.  Years-long
territorial disputes, mainly with China, have driven naval standoffs, the
capture of fishermen, the cutting of survey ships’ cables, violations of
sovereignty, widespread domestic unrest and anger at the government, riots and
lootings and a strong upgrade of Vietnam’s naval materials. Today, the country
of 93 million people is on the move economically dependent at seas, its
citizens believe the government should gun hard for its claims. During times of
tensions, the government has used a publicity campaign to draw attention to the
events and demonstrated commitment to standing firm, showed opposition to
China’s actions. However, in these circumstances, Government’s media framing
sketches a picture with sophisticated patterns. Media coverage and public
opinion are completely controlled and framed. Mainstream media is muted. The
government sets its propaganda departments and its newspapers into a frenzy of
despair; things stay quiet; and media quotes the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
(MFA) spokesmen or simply reports the outcomes. In its statements, MFA never
mentions any country by name while showing the oppositions.  The
popularity of social networks becomes the hope for dissent voices and netizens to
discuss foreign policies. However, the authorities, military and public
security agencies deploy massive forces of  ‘Internet warriors’ to detect, report, hack
out critics’ accounts and harass those dissidents, Also, the Government cracks down
on protests, arrests oppositions, and sustains an aura of competence. The
suppressions seem to be a part of propaganda that is framed to exploit emotions
of fear and discourage people from participating in policy-making discussion. Additionally,
split vested-interest groups in the administration are believed to employ (or
probably force) some of the most prominent bloggers to work as proxies to spur
supports/ oppositions in competing framing strategies. Under those pressures, public’s
responses to South China Sea policy are significantly contained. In contrast, toward
far-from-home protests by Vietnamese nationals living abroad, Vietnam has
allowed its propaganda and newspapers to stay noisy, to widely highlight those
demonstrations against China’s militarization of the South China Sea.  The
government’s framing consequently produces a high sense of ambiguity, culturally
and politically incongruent and congruent attitudes in the public, dramatically
undermines media’s role of representation, reveal some many facets of
nationalism and resentment against the regime that requires security forces to
keep the social stability in check. Observations suggest that a larger majority
assumes the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam has condoned all Chinese
aggressive actions in the South China Sea in order to survive the authoritarian
regime; that the Government and the Party’s rhetoric actions are only tactics
of demagogue; that Vietnam’s leadership is selling out territory to China.
Other group turns into silence in favor of the Government regardless the
inconvenient situation and the hatred toward the conflicts in the South China
Sea.

China

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China
has been accused of ramping up tensions over control in recent years by
building artificial islands on reefs, on which it has added airstrips and other
military-style installations. But the fact that the Chinese always tries to
rally support from every country that they can regardless of how far afield or
how small, demonstrates that the Chinese do care about their reputation and
image. Thus, there is also a great need to rely on the Government’s propaganda
system. Ranked as one of the harshest media environment countries, China shares
many similarities, particularly the one-two punch of censorship plus propaganda
and the employment of similar rhetoric during times of tensions. But these
tools seem to have been executed at stricter degrees. The question here is what
frames has China used to override accusations and strengthen its massive
territorial claims?

 

The United States and Australia

Australia
and the United States are not claimants but interested parties also have long
been vocal on the issue.

 

To Australia,
South China Sea disputes obviously are not immediate concerns of the Government
but it has also raised their voice to probably ensure an equitable resolution
is achieved there and to prevent the next problems to be much closer to its
territory. In such countries of a full democracy or flawed democracy, scholars
argued that Governments still set certain overarching principles to shape the
ways things to be reported by controlling preferential information access, or
pitching right-hand outlets to influence public perceptions.

 

The
United States has become involved in the matter based on the principle of
freedom of navigation in a body of water through which a significant amount of
commercial shipping passes to drive the economies of important trading
partners, the issue of safety of maritime trade routes, its historical
presence, as well its alliances with other parties and countries, quite apart
from the potential oil and natural gas deposits in the South China Sea, which
obviously would be of interest not just to the States. This logic of course
should inform American interest in the South China Sea should be self-evident.
But the inconvenient truth that people stamp out is it has always been a
strategic objective of the US to prevent domination of China in the region as
well as in the South China Sea.

 

The question
is how these two democratic governments frame media coverage in order to
position themselves and protect their own interests? Is it significantly
different from what authoritarians do?