Book Details

Google preview button
    • October 2011
    • 9780231158060
  • 352 Pages
  • Hardcover
  • $55.00
  • / £38.00


    • October 2011
    • 9780231528085
  • 352 Pages
  • E-book
  • $54.99
  • / £38.00

Strong Society, Smart State

The Rise of Public Opinion in China's Japan Policy

James Reilly

The rise and influence of public opinion on Chinese foreign policy reveals a remarkable evolution in authoritarian responses to social turmoil. James Reilly shows how Chinese leaders have responded to popular demands for political participation with a sophisticated strategy of tolerance, responsiveness, persuasion, and repression--a successful approach that helps explain how and why the Communist Party continues to rule China.

Through a detailed examination of China's relations with Japan from 1980 to 2010, Reilly reveals the populist origins of a wave of anti-Japanese public mobilization that swept across China in the early 2000s. Popular protests, sensationalist media content, and emotional public opinion combined to impede diplomatic negotiations, interrupt economic cooperation, spur belligerent rhetoric, and reshape public debates. Facing a mounting domestic and diplomatic crisis, Chinese leaders responded with a remarkable reversal, curtailing protests and cooling public anger toward Japan.

Far from being a fragile state overwhelmed by popular nationalism, market forces, or information technology, China has emerged as a robust and flexible regime that has adapted to its new environment with remarkable speed and effectiveness. Reilly's study of public opinion's influence on foreign policy extends beyond democratic states. It reveals how persuasion and responsiveness sustain Communist Party rule in China and develops a method for examining similar dynamics in different authoritarian regimes. He draws upon public opinion surveys, interviews with Chinese activists, quantitative media analysis, and internal government documents to support his findings, joining theories in international relations, social movements, and public opinion.

About the Author

James Reilly is lecturer in northeast Asian politics at the University of Sydney. He earned his Ph.D. from George Washington University and has been a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Oxford and a Fulbright Scholar at Renmin University in Beijing. His research focuses on Chinese foreign policy, East Asian politics, and international relations, and for eight years he worked with the American Friends Service Committee in China.

James Reilly provides us with an exhaustively-researched, nuanced, and on-the-ground look at the dynamic interaction between public opinion and foreign policy in a China that is increasingly wired, socially active, and engaged in a heated debate over its international relations. Tapping a wide range of sources, some previously undisclosed, his book insightfully explains how the Chinese leadership balances tolerance, responsiveness, persuasion, and repression to manage increasingly vocal and active bodies of opinion on sensitive foreign policy matters. The reader will come away with a far more sophisticated understanding of the most important forces at work in shaping Beijing's policies toward Japan and the Chinese Communist Party's ability to survive even as the society it leads becomes more informed, aware, and intent on having its voices heard and heeded.

Bates Gill, director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) and author, Rising Star: China's New Security Diplomacy

Strong Society, Smart State will shape the thinking of those concerned with Chinese foreign and domestic politics. Focusing on the oft-troubled Sino-Japanese relationship, James Reilly addresses two principal questions: Under what conditions, and to what extent, does public opinion shape foreign (and domestic) policy? And, when public opinion seems to be running out of control, how is it reined-in? His broad answers are that a strong society has developed over the reform period, exerting pressure not fully under Communist Party control; and the smart state, through a delicate mix of responsiveness and repression, has proven capable of keeping the lid on. These are elegantly stated propositions that have the further virtue of being important.

David M. Lampton, director of China Studies and Dean of Faculty, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies

A must-read for anyone with an interest in Chinese politics and foreign policy-making, public opinion and media. More broadly it casts fresh light on the impact of Chinese public opinion on China-Japan relations.

Caroline Rose

Essential reading for anybody interested in Chinese nationalism and foreign policy.

Christopher R. Hughes

While accessible to readers with limited background knowledge of the China-Japan relationship, experienced China watchers, as well as those with an interest in international relations theory, public opinion and media, will also find it appealing.

Matthew Thompson

an excellent addition to the literature.

Nicholas Khoo

His analytical framework and empirical findings provide a useful guide for the study of state-society interactions in post-Cold War authoritarian states...

Su-Jeong Kang

List of FiguresList of TablesAcknowledgmentsIntroduction1. Public Opinion in Chinese Foreign Policy2. Forgetting and Remembering the Past: China's Relations with Japan, 1949-19993. The Origins of Public Mobilization4. Responding to Public Opinion5. A Potent Populism6. The Rebirth of the Propaganda StateConclusionAppendicesNotesBibliographyIndex