Public Opinion Backlash Against China’s International Expansion

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)366-382
Journal / PublicationJournal of Contermporary China
Issue number135
Online published15 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021


In recent years, China has attempted to expand its international power by initiating projects such as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). This article scrutinizes the potential obstacles to China’s expansion from a public opinion perspective. It argues that domestic public opinion may pose two challenges. First, xenophobic sentiments stimulate opposition to the inflow of foreigners and encourage social conflict. Second, the biased distribution of public resources between foreigners and Chinese citizens enhances the sense of inequality and relative deprivation. Nationalist sentiment plays an important role in shaping these two challenges. The authors show that the challenges can impede the implementation of expansive foreign policies. These arguments are supported by evidence from both qualitative and quantitative sources.

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