Andrew Chubb Presentation at CCGC "The Rise of South China Sea Nationalism in China"

Wednesday, Apr 25, 2018

The Contemporary China Graduate Colloquium - Friday, 4/27, from 12-1:30 in Wallace 190. Our speaker for this week will be Andrew Chubb, postdoctoral fellow in the Princeton-Harvard China and the World Program. Please find the paper attached to this message. Lunch will be served at the meeting.


The Rise of South China Sea Nationalism in China


Andrew Chubb

Contemporary China Graduate Colloquium

This paper traces the rise of Chinese popular nationalist attitudes and actions towards the South China Sea disputes. The extensive and rich literature on nationalism in contemporary China has generally concentrated on its manifestations in relation to Japan, the United States, or “the West” in general. While this is understandable given the prominence of former imperialist powers as foils for China’s contemporary state-sanctioned national identity, it has left a dearth of accounts of Chinese nationalism in relation to its Southeast Asian neighbors. This paper begins to fill this gap using original 2013 survey data on urban residents’ perceptions of the South China Sea dispute, along with internet search activity data stretching back to 2006, and quasi-ethnographic observation of online discourse. The analysis shows, first, that Beijing’s more assertive foreign policy in the South China Sea was a key cause of intensified popular nationalist sentiments on the issue — though there are signs that this mobilizing effect was not entirely intentional. Second, the Internet has reduced the CCP propaganda state’s ability to frame domestic interpretations of foreign policy developments, but authorities retain a decisive agenda-setting influence over the issue’s salience. In accounting for this important trend in Chinese public opinion, these two key findings also provide theoretical insight into the causes of nationalism, and the socio-political consequences of network technology under authoritarian regimes.