Thomas J. Christensen

Alastair Iain Johnston 江憶恩


  • Deputy Director

Chen Yali (Lily)

  • 2016-2017 Fellow

Nate Adler

  • Alumni Student Affiliate

Nhung Bui

My name is Nhung T. Bui and I am currently a PhD Candidate in the Politics Department at Princeton University. My research interests concern Chinese nationalism and nationalist propaganda and Chinese foreign relations. My ongoing dissertation project looks at China's communication and propaganda strategies during times of regime insecurity. My dissertation committee includes Prof. Thomas J. Christensen, Prof. Aaron L. Friedberg and Prof. Rory Truex. I am also a research associate at the Center for International Studies at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Ho Chi Minh City, and a Lynde and Harry Bradley Fellow at Princeton University for the 2014-2015 academic year. 

Prior to coming to Princeton University, I obtained a BA in Government and Economics (summa cum laude) from Smith College. My thesis entitled "Explaining China's strident human rights diplomacy: The role of domestic politics" won the Dawes Prize for the best undergraduate work on political science from the Smith College Government Department. I have previously interned for the Vietnam Ministry of Finance in Hanoi, Vietnam and Infosys Technologies Limited in Chennai, India. 

Current dissertation work: Regime insecurity and nationalist propaganda in China 

Scholars and commentators often argue that the Chinese communist party uses anti-foreign nationalism to prop up its domestic legitimacy. Even though there are a number of works written on Chinese nationalism, we know surprisingly little about how the Chinese government uses nationalist propaganda over time. Would the communist party whip up nationalist sentiments during times when it faces domestic challenges, such as student demonstrations, secessionist movements and economic difficulties? To answer this question, the project introduces both case studies and time series analyses of the People's Daily and Global Times (Chinese) content and tracks changes in sentiments towards foreign countries, especially the United States and Japan. 

Peer-reviewed article: 

"Managing anti-China nationalism in Vietnam: Evidence from the media during the 2014 oil rig crisis," (2016) The Pacific ReviewRead article

Abstract: When confronted with an external provocation, do governments with control over the domestic media environment respond with hawkish propaganda to stir up nationalist sentiments? Vietnam's propaganda strategy during the 2014 Haiyang Shiyou 981 oil rig crisis with China is used as a case to answer this question. Based on an analysis of 570 Vietnamese newspaper articles, I argue that Vietnam managed to adopt a middle approach that included tough rhetoric to criticize Chinese actions, but also avoided overplaying the nationalist card. Instead of openly intensifying anti-China sentiments, the government tried to channel popular anger and animosity into a more positive form of pro-government nationalism. The media highlighted the need for national unity, encouragement for maritime enforcement officers, relief for affected fishermen, and above all, confidence in the government's ability to resolve the situation. Contentious historical issues between China and Vietnam were downplayed in the process. This finding helps to shed light on the development of anti-foreign nationalism in Vietnam. While leaders are compelled to respond strongly to a real provocation, they try to keep a lid on anti-China sentiments for reasons of domestic stability.

Policy commentaries:

"Hard power meets soft: Obama's visit to Vietnam," (with Truong-Minh Vu), analysis piece for the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, Center for Strategic & International Studies, May 26, 2016, Read text

"Vietnam's pivot to America will continue," (with Truong-Minh Vu), Feature article on The National Interest, March 24, 2016, Read text 

"Vietnam should abandon non-alignment now," The Diplomat, January 29, 2016, Read text

"Chinese nationalist sentiment after the US South China Sea patrol," The Diplomat, November 2, 2015, Read text 


Preceptor for International Relations of East Asia (under Thomas Christensen), Spring 2016 

Preceptor for Causes of War (under Gary Bass), Fall 2015

Preceptor for Chinese Politics (under Rory Truex), Spring 2015

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