Home > Research > Publications & Outputs > Future Crises in the Indo-Pacific
View graph of relations

Future Crises in the Indo-Pacific: The Shadow of Chinese Public Opinion

Research output: Book/Report/ProceedingsOther report

Publication date10/2023
PublisherAsia Society
<mark>Original language</mark>English


From the Senkaku Islands to the South China Sea and the Sino-Indian border, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has wielded Chinese public opinion as a diplomatic weapon in multiple recent regional crises. Although the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has extensive capabilities for controlling public opinion, Beijing often emphasizes that its options for diplomatic compromise are limited by the specter of Chinese popular nationalism. Many foreign governments now routinely monitor Chinese online sentiments about their country, suggesting that Chinese public opinion is seen as in some way informative. But how is it interpreted, and what impact does it have in times of crisis? Do outbursts of nationalist anger help China convey military resolve, telegraph threats of economic punishment, or induce other nations to tread more carefully? Or do they backfire, provoking the target and steeling resolve to resist China’s demands or even confront China militarily? This report offers unique preliminary insight into these questions from a survey experiment conducted in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Kazakhstan, and India in 2022, comparing respondents’ views of a crisis before and after Chinese public opinion becomes a salient factor in the scenario.