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In this chapter, we first discuss the existing research on China’s public opinion and foreign policy and suggest that the general, public-targeted survey research faces three analytical weaknesses. We then introduce our unique “opinion survey and textual analysis” approach, which integrates survey research techniques and traditional textual analyses of Chinese international relations (IR) scholars’ writings. We argue that our book makes two contributions to the study of China’s international relations. On one hand, we fill an intellectual gap in the study of Chinese IR scholars’ perceptions of international relations in the 2010s through a unique analytical approach integrating opinion surveys and textual analysis. On the other hand, through the eyes of Chinese IR scholars, we make sense of what Chinese policy makers may think about the world.
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David Shambaugh, Beautiful Imperialist: China Perceives America, 1972– 1990 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991), 3.
Michael Swaine and Zhang Tuosheng, eds. Managing Sino-American Crises: Case Studies and Analysis (Washington D.C.: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2006); Edward Slingerland, Eric Blanchard, and Lyn Boyd-Judson, “Collision with China: Conceptual Metaphor Analysis, Somatic Marking, and the EP-3 Incident,” International Studies Quarterly 51(2007): 53–77; and Wu Xinbo, “Understanding Chinese and U.S. Crisis Behavior,” The Washington Quarterly 31, no. 1 (2008): 61–76.
BBC News, “Million March against Iraq War,” 16 February 2003, available at: www.bbcnews.co.uk.
Daniel Lynch, China’s Futures: PRC Elites Debate Economics, Politics, and Foreign Policy (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2015), x.
This section is based on the following two publications: Huiyun Feng and Kai He, “America in the Eyes of America Watchers: Survey Research in Beijing in 2012,” The Journal of Contemporary China 24, no. 91 (2015): 83–100; Huiyun Feng and Kai He, “How Chinese Scholars Think about Chinese Foreign Policy,” Australian Journal of Political Science 51, no. 4 (2016): 694–710.
It is worth noting that the majority of public opinion surveys conducted in China focus on topics in comparative politics such as economic change, political development, and ethnic issues rather than foreign policy issues. See, for example, Yanlai Wang, Nicholas Rees, and Bernadette Andreosso-O’Callaghan, “Economic Change and Political Development in China: Findings from a Public Opinion Survey,” Journal of Contemporary China 13, no. 39 (2004): 203–222; Chack-kie Wong and Peter Nana-Shong Lee, “Economic Reform and Social Welfare: The Chinese Perspective Portrayed through a Social Survey in Shanghai,” Journal of Contemporary China 10, no. 28 (2001): 517–532. On ethnic relations, see Herbert S. Yee “Ethnic Relations in Xinjiang: A Survey of Uygur-Han relations in Urumqi,” Journal of Contemporary China 12, no. 35 (2003): 431–452; Wenfang Tang and Benjamin Darr, “Chinese Nationalism and its Political and Social Origins,” Journal of Contemporary China 21, no. 77 (2012): 811–826; Jie Chen, “Sociopolitical Attitudes of the Masses and Leaders in the Chinese Village: Attitude Congruence and Constraint,” Journal of Contemporary China 14, no. 44 (2005): 445–464; Zhengxu Wang “Public Support for Democracy in China,” Journal of Contemporary China 16, no. 53 (2007): 561–579; David V. Dowd, Allen Carlson, and Shen Mingming, “The Prospects for Democratization in China: Evidence from the 1995 Beijing Area Study,” Journal of Contemporary China 8, no. 22 (1999): 365–380. For a comprehensive review of survey research in Chinese politics, see Melanie Manion, “A survey of survey research on Chinese politics: what have we learned?” Contemporary Chinese Politics: New Sources, Methods, and Field Strategies (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 181–199; Xiaojun Li, “New Trends in Survey Research on Chinese Politics,” Memo for the Harvard Chinese Politics Workshop (2018), http://cnpoliticsworkinggroup.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Xiaojun-Li_Survey-Research.pdf.
Gabriel Almond, The American People and Foreign Policy (New York: Harcourt, 1950).
See the official website of the Public Survey Center, available at: http://www.minyi.net.cn/minyi_about.php.
For a similar criticism, see Melanie Manion, “A Survey of Survey Research on Chinese Politics,” in Allen Carlson, Mary Gallagher, Kenneth Lieberthal, and Melanie Manion, eds. Contemporary Chinese Politics: New Sources, Methods, and Field Strategies (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 181–199.
Li Shenming, ed. Zhengguo Minzhong de Guojiguan [Chinese Public View of the World] (Beijing: Social Sciences Academic Press, 2012).
See the Chicago Council on Global Affairs website, available at: http://www.thechicagocouncil.org/pos_overview.php. Some scholars have used the CCGA data to conduct research on China. See Tao Xie and Benjamin I. Page, “Americans and the Rise of China as a World Power,” Journal of Contemporary China 19, no. 65 (2010): 479–501.
See The Pew Global Attitudes Project Website, available at: http://pewglobal.org. For a China-related study using the Pew Global Attitudes project data, see Tao Xie and Benjamin I. Page, “What Affects China’s National Image? A Cross-National Study of Public Opinion,’ Journal of Contemporary China 22, no. 83 (2013): 850–867.
It is difficult to follow a random sampling strategy in China since the samples are normally drawn disproportionately from urban areas.
Available at: www.pewglobal.org.
Fergus Hanson and Andrew Shearer, China and the World: Public opinion and Foreign policy (Sydney: Lowy Institute for International Policy, 2009).
Jie Chen, “Urban Chinese Perceptions of Threats from the United States and Japan,” Public Opinion Quarterly 65, no. 2 (2001): 254–266.
Yu Sunda et al., “Sino-U.S. Relations: Views from the Masses,” World Economics and Politics, no. 6 (2001): 33–38. 余逊达, 陈旭东, 朱纪平, “中美关系: 来自民众的看法”, 世界经济与政治, 第六期, 2001 年, 33–38 页.
Xiaojun Li, Jianwei Wang, and Dingding Chen. “Chinese Citizens’ Trust in Japan and South Korea: Findings from a Four-City Survey.” International Studies Quarterly 60, no. 4 (2016): 778–789.
Xiaojun Li, Weiyi Shi, and Boliang Zhu. “The face of internet recruitment: Evaluating the labor markets of online crowdsourcing platforms in China.” Research & Politics 5, no. 1 (2018): 1–8.
Burzo, Stefano, and Xiaojun Li. “Public Perceptions of International Leadership in China and the United States.” Chinese Political Science Review 3, no. 1 (2018): 81–99. Xiaojun Li and Ka Zeng. “Individual preferences for FDI in developing countries: Experimental evidence from China.” Journal of Experimental Political Science 4, no. 3 (2017): 195–205; Songying Fang and Xiaojun Li. “Historical Ownership and Territorial Disputes,” Journal of Politics (forthcoming); Songying Fang and Fanglu Sun. “Gauging Chinese Public Support for China’s Role in Peacekeeping.” The Chinese Journal of International Politics 12, no. 2 (2019): 179–201; Jessica Chen Weiss, “How Hawkish Is the Chinese Public? Another Look at “Rising Nationalism” and Chinese Foreign Policy”, Journal of Contemporary China 28, no. 119 (2019): 679–695.
Kai Quek and Alastair Iain Johnston. “Can China Back Down? Crisis De-escalation in the Shadow of Popular Opposition.” International Security 42, no. 3 (2018): 7–36; Mark S. Bell and Kai Quek. “Authoritarian Public Opinion and the Democratic Peace.” International Organization 72, no. 1 (2018): 227–242; Jessica Chen Weiss and Allan Dafoe. “Authoritarian audiences and government rhetoric in international crises: Evidence from China.” International Studies Quarterly (2019) https://doi.org/10.1093/isq/sqz059. Xiaojun Li and Dingding Chen, “Public Opinion, International Reputation, and Audience Cost in an Authoritarian Regime,” University of British Columbia.
Ole R. Holsti, “Public Opinion and Foreign Policy: Challenges to the Almond-Lippmann Consensus,” International Studies Quarterly 36 (1992): 439–466; Holsti, Public Opinion and American Foreign Policy, revised edition (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 2004); and Robert Y. Shapiro and Benjamin I. Page, “Foreign Policy and the Rational Public,” The Journal of Conflict Resolution 32, no. 2 (1988): 211–247.
Alastair Iain Johnston, “The Correlates of Beijing Public Opinion toward the United States, 1998–2004,” in Alastair Iain Johnston and Robert Ross, eds. New Directions in the Study of China’s Foreign Policy (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2006), 340–379.
Alastair Iain Johnston, “Chinese Middle Class Attitudes Towards: International Affairs: Nascent Liberalization?” The China Quarterly 179 (2004): 603–628.
Norbert Schwarz, “Self-reports: how the questions shape the answers”. American Psychologist 54, no. 2 (1999), 93; Jon Kronick, Charles Judd, and Bernd Wittenbrink, “The Measurement of Attitudes.” In Dolores Albarracín, Blair T. Johnson, and Mark P. Zanna (eds.) The Handbook of Attitudes (New York, NY: Psychology Press, 2005): 21–76.
Wang Jisi and Susan Shirk, “Dialogue: Public Opinion and Foreign Policy,” Global Times, 16 January 2004, Section 15.
For the pluralist view of democracy and public opinion, see Benjamin Page and Robert Shapiro, “Effects of Public Opinion on Policy,” American Political Science Review 77, no. 1 (1983): 175–190. For competing arguments, see Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman, Manufacturing Consent (New York: Pantheon, 1988) and Michael Margolis and Gary Mauser, eds. Manipulating Public Opinion: Essays on Public Opinion as a Dependent Variable (Belmont: Wadsworth, 1989).
James Rosenau, Public Opinion and Foreign Policy (New York: Random House, 1961); Benjamin Ginsberg, The Captive Public: How Mass Opinion Promotes State Power (New York: Basic Books, 1986).
Yun Sun, “Chinese Public Opinion: Shaping China’s Foreign Policy, or Shaped by It?” December 2011, available at: http://www.brookings.edu/research/opinions/2011/12/13-china-public-opinion-sun; and Linda Jakobson and Dean Knox, “New Foreign Policy Actors in China,” SIPRI Policy Paper, 26 September 2010.
Joseph Fewsmith and Stanley Rosen, “The Domestic Context of Chinese Foreign Policy: Does ‘Public Opinion’ Matter?” in David Lampton, ed. The Making of Chinese Foreign and Security Policy in the Era of Reform, 1978–2000 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001), 151–190, at 152.
Shambaugh, Beautiful Imperialist; Philip Saunders, “China’s America Watchers: Changing Attitudes toward the U.S.,” The China Quarterly 161, (2000): 41–65.
Michael Tomz, Jessica Weiss, and Keren Yarhi-Milo, “Public Opinion and Decisions about Military Force in Democracies,” International Organization, forthcoming.
China’s “America watchers” refers to Chinese academic scholars and policy analysts who study US–China relations in government-funded universities and research institutions.
Shambaugh, Beautiful Imperialist.
Jianwei Wang, Limited Adversaries, Sino-American Mutual Images in the Post-Cold War Era (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000); Biwu Zhang, “Chinese Perceptions of American Power, 1991–2004,” Asian Survey 45, no. 5 (2005): 667–686; Rosalie Chen, “China Perceives America: Perspectives of International Relations Experts,” Journal of Contemporary China 12, no. 35 (2003): 285–297.
Philip Saunders, “China’s America Watchers: Changing Attitudes toward the U.S.,” The China Quarterly 161 (2000): 41–65.
Ian Johnson, “Test for New Leaders as Chinese Paper Takes on Censors,” The New York Times, 6 January 2013.
Carsten Holz, “Have China Scholars All Been Bought?” Far Eastern Economic Review, 4 July 2007, p. 36. A recent study shows that overseas China scholars also face this “self-censorship” dilemma. See Sheena Chestnut Greitens and Rory Truex, “Repressive Experiences among China Scholars: New Evidence from Survey Data,” 1 August 2018, available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3243059 or https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3243059.
Li Wei and Song Yiming, “The Miniature of China’s International Relations Research—the ‘CCPSIS as a case study,’” in Chinese Journal of International Politics, no. 2, issue 2, 2017: 122–150. 李巍, 宋亦明, “中国国际关系研究的缩影—以“政治学与国际关系共同体” 会议为研究对象”, 国际政治科学, 2017 年第 2 卷第 2 期(总第 6 期), 第 122—150 页.
“US Public, Experts, Differ on China Policies,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 18 September 2012. https://carnegieendowment.org/publications/49411.
Following a similar methodology, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) also conducted an opinion survey on “strategic elites” in 11 Asia Pacific economies in early 2014, which aimed to explore regional perceptual trend lines on power and order in Asia. However, the sample size of Chinese experts in this CSIS survey is only 35.
Despite our best efforts, we were unable to field our survey at the 11th CCPSIS annual meeting in 2018.
We include students in all of our analyses as most of them are in the MA and PhD programs of international relations and will soon become the next batch of Chinese IR scholars. Analytically, because nearly half of the respondents are students, dropping them would substantially reduce the statistical power and the significance of the temporal comparisons.
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