• Lea Vignand
4. term, European Studies, Master (Master Programme)
For the last fifteen years, China’s foreign policy has been actively working on gaining influence worldwide by designing an appealing national image and promoting it abroad. In the context of the rise of gastronationalism in East Asia, culinary politics have recently become a new focus for the Chinese government to continue its identity efforts in a new direction, namely the development of an attractive national culinary narrative. Indeed, the promotion of a Chinese culinary identity can be seen as an additional step towards increasing China’s cultural attractiveness. However, as East Asian countries benefit from foodways that might appear similar to the eyes of foreign markets, the shaping of each nation’s culinary identity has quickly taken the form of an East Asian race to claims-making. While the reputation of Chinese culinary heritage has already been tarnished by numerous failed applications to the UNESCO List of ICH, China is now giving its identity strategy a second chance by following the footsteps of its neighboring rivals, namely Japan and South Korea. This thesis provides a comprehensive overview of China’s position in this race to culinary heritagization where it definitely does not hold the position of forerunner. While it appears logically beneficial for China to reinforce its nation-branding efforts by shaping and promoting a powerful image of its national culinary identity, it is also very relevant to linger on the unique hindrances that China has to face in order to be able to compete with its neighbors in this race. This thesis analyzes how China has the opportunity to free itself from its past diplomatic failures in the field of culinary politics through the shaping of its diplomatic relations with the EU, and more specifically through the EU-China GI agreement on Geographical Indications ratified in 2020. It provides a new perspective on culinary politics, bypassing the protectionist claims surrounding gastronationalism in order to better focus on the topics of nation-branding and cultural identity in China.
Publication date31 May 2023
Number of pages42
ID: 533243609