Standing Up: An Assessment of Modern Chinese Nationalism's Role and Impact Within China and Beyond
Wall, Michael C.
In the past three decades, Chinese nationalism has proven to be a strong yet often unpredictable force throughout the People's Republic of China's (PRC) government and society. As such, any understanding of China must include recognition and knowledge of Chinese nationalism's powerful force in both Beijing's domestic and foreign policies. Given nationalism's emotive power and unpredictable nature, the Chinese government attempts to set the tone and direction of Chinese nationalism to promote policies, reach national goals, and secures the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) legitimacy. Yet, an increasingly independent popular nationalism challenges the ways in which the Party approaches and uses nationalism, making it something Beijing must vigilantly monitor, manage, and balance given nationalism's unpredictable force. With its staggering economic growth and increasing influence in the global system, Chinese nationalism also has evolved. Yet, it was not until the 1990s that foreign observers began to take notice of Chinese nationalism's appearance among the people.In this thesis, three modern case studies are examined to analyze the force of modern Chinese nationalism. The first case study examines the 1999 NATO bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Serbia and the seemingly popular nationalist backlash it evoked. In response, the Chinese government attempted to carefully balance the tone, direction, and impact of popular nationalism to meet government objectives and satisfy nationalist demands from the Chinese people. Next, the role of nationalism in China's official Taiwan policies is evaluated illustrating the importance of territorial integrity and sovereignty to Chinese nationalists. Moreover, this case study addresses whether Chinese nationalism is inherently aggressive and irrational. Thirdly, nationalism in the context of China's staggering economic reforms and growth is analyzed exemplifying China's nationalist goals of growth, security and international power. This includes the negative consequences of China's reforms, which have the power to incite an anti-government popular nationalist backlash. Finally, there is a concluding discussion regarding United States foreign policy decisions in light of Chinese nationalism. This is of particular importance since American actions tend to provoke Chinese nationalist fervor. Therefore, the following case studies and analysis demonstrate the breadth, depth, and influence of modern Chinese nationalism.
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