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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The role of public opinion in China's Japan policy: 1997–2007
by Reilly, James M., Ph.D., The George Washington University, 2008, 318; 3307349
Abstract (Summary)

Does public opinion impact authoritarian states' foreign policy? This dissertation develops the concept of a ‘wave of public mobilization’ to capture the mechanisms, conditions, and limits of public opinion's impact on authoritarian states' foreign policy; and tests this approach in the case of China's Japan policy from 1997-2007. During a wave of public mobilization, public opinion becomes more extreme and negative. Instances of social protests and sensationalist, negative media coverage both become more frequent and widespread. For public mobilization to emerge in authoritarian countries, state tolerance is a necessary condition. Such tolerance is most likely in response to nationalist protests and during periods of elite divisions and bilateral tensions. In liberalizing authoritarian states, social activists and sensationalist media coverage tend to play the key role in mobilizing public opinion into a political force. At its peak, public mobilization impacts foreign policy discourse and decision-making. Yet as protests raise fears of social instability and concerns with worsening bilateral relations, state leaders reverse their previous tolerance of protests and improve the political environment abroad, bringing the wave to an end.

This dissertation first introduces the public mobilization concept and the six hypotheses tested in this study. The second chapter provides a historical overview of China's Japan policy, focusing on the 1997-2007 period. The third chapter compares the role of state and society in shaping the 2002-2005 wave of public mobilization in China on issues related to Japan policy. The fourth chapter evaluates the impact of public mobilization on Chinese experts' policy recommendations and analysis of Japan from 1997-2007. The fifth chapter examines the impact of public mobilization in four cases of Chinese policymaking from 2002-2005: Japanese companies' potential involvement in building a high-speed rail line in China, the accidental poisoning of 37 Chinese citizens due to abandoned Japanese chemical weapons, Japan's arrest of Chinese activists who landed on the Diaoyu Islands, and Japan's efforts to obtain a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. The conclusion explores implications and extensions of this research.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Shambaugh, David Leigh
Commitee: Lampton, David M., Mochizuki, Mike M., Nau, Henry R., Yahuda, Michael
School: The George Washington University
Department: Political Science
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-A 69/04, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Political science, International law, International relations
Keywords: Authoritarian, China, Foreign policy, Japan, Public opinion
Publication Number: 3307349
ISBN: 978-0-549-56061-6
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