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Strong Society, Smart StateThe Rise of Public Opinion in China's Japan Policy$
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James Reilly

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780231158060

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231158060.001.0001

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Responding to Public Opinion

Responding to Public Opinion

(p.129) 4 Responding to Public Opinion
Strong Society, Smart State

James Reilly

Columbia University Press

This chapter assesses the influence of public opinion on foreign policy by looking into four cases of Chinese policy making from 2002 to 2005: (1) Japanese companies' potential involvement in building a high-speed rail line in China; (2) the accidental poisoning of 37 Chinese citizens due to abandoned Japanese chemical weapons; (3) Japan's arrest of Chinese activists who landed on the Diaoyu Islands; and (4) Japan's efforts to obtain a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. Each case elicited sensationalist media coverage, popular activism, and strong public sentiments, demanding a strong response by the Chinese government. The chapter examines the impact of public mobilization on Beijing's negotiating behavior, official rhetoric, and policy decisions, and compares it to the most compelling alternative explanation—that the Chinese government was simply reacting to actions taken by Japan.

Keywords:   public opinion, foreign policy, Chinese policy making, high-speed rail, accidental poisoning, Japanese chemical weapons, Diaoyu Islands, permanent seat, UN Security Council, popular activism

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