How hawkish is the Chinese public? | 3/25/2019 | Staff
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Chinese Communist Party officials often invoke the outrage of the Chinese people when disputing a foreign government's actions or demands. International observers are often skeptical of these claims about the overarching feelings of 1.3 billion people.

But not much is known about what citizens of the People's Republic of China actually think about their country's foreign policy. A Cornell scholar of Chinese politics and foreign relations is among the first to ask that question.

Jessica - Chen - Weiss - Associate - Professor

Jessica Chen Weiss, associate professor of government, finds Chinese public opinion is quite hawkish – and China's youth and elites are especially so. Her findings are in a new study, "How Hawkish Is the Chinese Public? Another Look at 'Rising Nationalism' and Chinese Foreign Policy," published March 7 in the Journal of Contemporary China.

"The main result of the study is pretty sobering, in that the majority of the Chinese public, as represented in these surveys, supports greater reliance on the military and increased defense spending and are even willing to send troops to reclaim disputed islands in the East and South China seas," she said. "There appears to be a pretty strong public basis of support for tough policies and concern over issues ranging from U.S. military operations near China to sovereignty disputes."

Policy - Beliefs - Generations - Users - Netizens

Younger Chinese are more hawkish in their foreign policy beliefs than older generations, she said. And internet users ("netizens") and elites, who represent the most visible and vocal segment of the Chinese population, are even more inclined to call on the Chinese government to invest in and rely more on military strength, according to the study.

However, that's not necessarily cause for concern, Weiss said. That's because depending on the wording of the question, that support can quickly diminish.

Survey - Troops - Fight - Support

"If that same survey asked, 'Would you be willing to send troops to ensure a fight?' support would drop...
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