Powerful Patriots: Nationalist Protest in China's Foreign Relations

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9780199387564: Powerful Patriots: Nationalist Protest in China's Foreign Relations

What role do nationalism and popular protest play in China's foreign relations? Chinese authorities permitted anti-American demonstrations in 1999 but repressed them in 2001 during two crises in U.S.-China relations. Anti-Japanese protests were tolerated in 1985, 2005, and 2012 but banned in 1990 and 1996. Protests over Taiwan, the issue of greatest concern to Chinese nationalists, have never been allowed. To explain this variation, Powerful Patriots identifies the diplomatic as well as domestic factors that drive protest management in authoritarian states. Because nationalist protests are costly to repress and may turn against the government, allowing protests demonstrates resolve and makes compromise more costly in diplomatic relations. Repressing protests, by contrast, sends a credible signal of reassurance, facilitating diplomatic flexibility. Powerful Patriots traces China's management of dozens of nationalist protests and their consequences between 1985 and 2012.

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About the Author:

Jessica Chen Weiss is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Yale University. The dissertation on which this book is based won the 2009 American Political Science Association Helen Dwight Reid Award. She received her Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego and founded FACES, the Forum for American/Chinese Exchange at Stanford, while an undergraduate at Stanford University.


"An invaluable record of China's diplomatic storms." - The Financial Times

"Jessica Chen Weiss, an assistant professor at Yale University and a rising star in the China field...provides meticulous, readable retellings of anti-US and anti-Japan populist outbursts since the 1980s...the Communist Party's authoritarian equivalent to the negotiating tactic of US presidents insisting their options for compromise are limited by a hardline US Congress. It thus has broader relevance to diverse cases across Asia, from anti-Chinese riots in Vietnam to Myanmar's rejection of Chinese infrastructure investments on the basis of public outrage." -- Global Asia

"Are Chinese policymakers driven to take more assertive foreign policy positions by the pressure of nationalist public opinion, or do they merely use that opinion as a tool to strengthen their hand in negotiations with other powers? Weiss provides a nuanced by clear answer in favor of the latter position. Her study of 92 protest attempts from 1985 to 2012 finds that authorities restrained or prevented more demonstrations than they allowed but shows that some flexibility proved useful for diplomatic signaling." - Foreign Affairs

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