Chinese Proto-Elites: Perceptions of Regional Neighbours

Threats or Opportunities? Chinese ‘Proto-Elite’ Perceptions of their Regional Neighbours” (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2020.1866649) is a new article by Qin Pang of the School of International Relations at Sun Yat-sen University in China and Nicholas Thomas of the Department of Asian and International Studies, City University of Hong Kong.

The abstract for this paper states:

Realists perceive China’s rise as a threat to the international order. Liberals see China’s increased participation in international organisations as examples of greater integration in the global order. Both sets of analyses frequently overlook the opinions of the Chinese public or conflate them with those of the state. To better understand how the Chinese people, particularly those among the elite, perceive the international order we conducted a large-scale survey among China’s “proto-elite” youths concerning their views of the international order. Our findings suggest that the current dichotomy between realist and liberal scholars is too simplistic. The respondents to the survey demonstrated aspects of both positions – supporting co-operation with the neighbouring states yet, simultaneously, considering most of the same neighbours as threatening to Chinese interests. Given the increasing presence of Chinese people seeking to have an impact on the country’s foreign affairs and the way the state seems to episodically permit such societal voices to infuse foreign policy issues, it is argued that a deeper analysis of this complex array of views is essential for a more complete understanding of the domestic context to China’s rise.

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