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Chinese popular nationalism and PRC policy in the South China Sea

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Publication date2017
Awarding Institution
  • University of Western Australia
  • University of Western Australia
Original languageEnglish


This study details an important evolution in the relationship between Chinese popular nationalism and PRC foreign policy on the South China Sea issue. China's shift to a more assertive policy from 2007 was demonstrably unrelated to public opinion, but the resultant international tensions soon attracted domestic attention. The subsequent rise of South China Sea nationalism was primarily a function of the state's assertive policy shift, but until mid-2011 authorities made no concerted effort to use it strategically. Since 2012, by carefully managing the genuine risks that it poses, the party-state has integrated popular nationalism into its assertive, but pragmatic, foreign policy.