Public Opinion and the Limit of China’s “Peaceful Rise”

Sitthiphon Kruarattikan
Ph.D. Candidate (Integrated Science),
College of Interdisciplinary Studies, Thammasat University


Public opinion has played an important role in the making of Chinese foreign policy since Deng Xiaoping’s institution of economic reform in 1978. Chinese citizens, with the coming of commercialized media and information technology, have more latitude to express their own views on international affairs, which are sometimes different from those held by the authorities. Therefore, it is difficult for the Chinese leadership to get the people to conform to official foreign policy orthodoxy, including the concept of “Peaceful Rise” propagated by the Chinese Communist Party and the government. Emotional outbursts during the anti-American and anti-Japanese protests in 1999 and 2005 respectively reminds us that China’s “Peaceful Rise” has been challenged by the violence and anger of its own people.

Key words: Public opinion, foreign policy, China, Peaceful Rise