Natasha Lock

Thesis Title:

Unravelling the Political Utility of Enmity in Mao, Jiang and Xi’s China.


This research will examine the strategic uses of enemy discourse by focusing on the evolution of enmity under the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). An enemy, as referred to in this thesis marks a discursively produced entity (be it an individual, group, or idea) which is said to deliberately harbour a threat to the CCP’s ideology, and/or sovereignty, and/or leadership. From the outset, I argue that the threat perception does not always require a substantive reality; instead, it is a social construct, and in turn a manufactured entity. This thesis will assess the CCP’s management of domestic enemy narratives under three regime flashpoints – the initial declaration and first year of Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution in 1966/67, Jiang Zemin’s crackdown on Falun Gong in 1999 and the first year of Xi Jinping’s Anti-Corruption Campaign in 2012/13.

Throughout these periods and indeed beyond, Chinese leadership has congruously garnered an inventive, rhythmic, and nationwide panoply of enemy narratives to serve as a core component of its domestic policy and surrounding narratives. By peeling back some of the layers of CCP narratives, we can find evidence of how maintaining the trope of enemy and framing this as a security matter plays a major role in state strategy. As such, this PhD aims to answer the following research question: how and why is the discourse of enmity used and reproduced by the Chinese Communist Party?

Primary Supervisor:

Astrid Nordin


N. Lock, “From Great Powers to Great Victims”, Stanford International Policy Review, (Fall 2020).

N. Lock, “Friend to the State or Foe to the System: China, America, and the Disinformation Wave”, Winner of the University of California San Diego China Focus Essay Contest, ($1000 prize), (Summer 2022).

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Pathway 12: SRSS