<<Taikichiro Mori Memorial Research Fund>>

Graduate Student Researcher Development Grant Report

(Academic Year 2010)

 

 

Name of the Research Project

Development of Chinese Marine Policy and Chinafs Policies towards Japan

Name of the Researcher

Vida MACIKENAITE

Affiliation

Graduate School of Media and Governance, Masterfs Program (GR)

Student Year

Year 2

 

 

PURPOSE OF THE FIELDWORK

The fieldwork was conducted as a part of Masterfs Thesis research at the SFC, Keio University. The main purpose of it was to complete a number of interviews with the scholars and to collect materials and information for the final Masterfs Thesis paper. Originally during this fieldwork the student intended to focus mainly on Chinafs marine policy and its policy toward Japan. During the fieldwork the scope of it was expanded and some additional interviews conducted. The fieldwork in Shanghai, China was conducted in September, immediately after the fishing boat incident near the Senkaku Islands. Such a situation provided an opportunity to discuss Chinafs policies toward Japan with a number of Chinese students and other citizens. These interviews provided a strong basis for the conceptual framework of the final Masterfs Thesis paper (please see The Importance of the Fieldwork below). Some materials, important for the Masterfs Thesis research were also collected, mainly at the Shanghai Library in Shanghai, China.

 

RESEARCH ACTIVITIES

The fieldwork consisted of 3 parts: (1) interviews with China researchers and the specialists of China-Japan relations; (2) collection of the materials, necessary for the Masterfs Thesis research. These materials were mainly related to the East China Sea gas field dispute between China and Japan, China-Japan relation in general, as well as public opinion and political participation in China; (3) interviews with the Chinese people, some of them students. The interviews focused on the East China Sea gas field dispute and joint gas field development in the area, general China-Japan relation and the recent incident near the Senkaku Islands, when a Chinese fishing boat collided with 2 fishing boats of the Japan Coast Guard. Such expansion of the fieldwork activitiesf scope was naturally suggested by the situation. A crisis in the bilateral relation between China and Japan created an opportunity to successfully conduct such kind of interviews that later proved to be of a special importance for the research. 

 

IMPORTANCE OF THE RESEARCH

This fieldwork provided important material and also conceptual ideas for the studentfs final Masterfs Thesis paper. The information gathered during the interviews became the basis for the conceptual framework of the final paper. It suggested that 2 types of citizensf opinions can be identified in China – public opinions and domestic opinion. These theoretical concepts were formulated later, after consulting the literature of political science. However, the main idea came during the interviews, especially conducted after the Senkaku Islands incident. In this way the fieldwork became a corner stone of the final Masterfs Thesis paper, especially the conceptual framework of the research.

The interviews and talks with the Chinese people revealed that there are various opinions in regards to the East China Sea gas field dispute. At the same time this raised a question how the Chinese foreign policy makers are able to observe such opinions when formulating their policies toward Japan. Although the number of the Internet users has multiplied over the last decade,[1] under usual circumstances these public opinions are rather limited in number. They are expressed and supported by a critical mass only in extraordinary circumstances, when domestic discontent accumulates. For example, such was the case during the anti-Japanese movements in 2003 and 2005. In July 2003 during the period of 10 days the gAlliance of Patriotsh () collected and submitted to the Ministry of Railways (华la铁) in Beijing 82,752 signatures against Japanese involvement in the construction of the Beijing-Shanghai high speed railway.[2] Two years later 10 million signatures were collected for the protest against Japanfs bid for the permanent seat in the UN Security Council.[3] Eventually it led to the protests by some 10,000 people in Beijing on April 9, 2005 and a double number in Shanghai on April 16.[4] However, under regular conditions (during the periods of social stability) such number of opinions is hardly ever expressed in consensus. Instead, they are expressed as a mixture of scattered opinions. Hence in the case of China it would be more accurate to refer to the opinions, expressed on a daily basis as public opinions (rather than a singular public opinion). These public opinions are a variety of publicly expressed views surrounding certain issues, mainly voiced through the Internet. Previous research argues that publicly voiced opinions serve gas a barometer of the kinds of emotions that would get the protesters into the streets.h[5]

This argument suggests that there exist a wider number of citizens whose opinions are important for the policy makers, rather than only the limited scattered opinions daily posted online. Such opinions become evident in cases when a sensitive issue arises and domestic discontent accumulates. The cases of 2003 and 2005 anti-Japanese movements have just been described above. Similar situation was caused by the Qiqihai incident, when 37 Chinese were severely injured and one man later died after being exposed to the abandoned weapons in China since its war with Japan. On September 18, 2003 Chinese activists gdelivered to the Japanese Embassy [an anti-Japanese petition] in ten black binders with 5000 pages of the names and home addresses of the 1.2 million signatories.h[6] When compared with the scattered public opinions such forms of political participation represent a consensus of a significant number of citizens. Further, it is not favored by the government because it threatens the legitimacy of the CCP-led regime, as it is explained in the following section. Finally, such views are translated into public opinion only in critical cases that is when the citizensf discontent mounts. Otherwise this general opinion of the citizens, who are interested in politics and could be mobilized, can be only assumed. Leonard W.Doob describes it as internal public opinion which can be referred to when the attitudes that people posses are not expressed.[7]

In the final paper, seeking to differentiate between the public opinions as defined above and general opinion, expressed only in extraordinary cases, a term domestic opinion was introduced. Its meaning is close to the term public opinion in democratic systems in the sense that it defines the complex opinion of the society surrounding public issues. It is internal public opinion as defined by Dobb, but for the purpose of simplicity the term domestic opinion was used. Public opinions clearly expressed on a daily basis constitute a part of domestic opinion.

Such a distinction is necessary when explaining Chinese foreign policy. Each of the terms suggests a different pattern of foreign policy making. If Chinese policy makers merely respond to the public opinions when making foreign policy, the linkage between public opinion and Chinafs foreign policy is rather simple. The input of the policy process is clearly expressed in the form of public opinions, and the policy makers may know what policies they are expected to adopt. On the other hand, if it is the consideration of domestic opinion, which actually shapes foreign policy decisions, as the hypothesis suggested, this linkage becomes more complicated. Rather than reacting to clearly defined demands from the citizens, the policy makers adopt policy decisions, which are expected to not provoke the rise of negative opinions. As the general domestic opinion is clearly expressed only after such negative opinions accumulate, the policy makers find themselves in a situation where they have to speculate one step ahead of the actual policy results. In such a situation there is a risk that the policy makers err on the side of caution. That is their policy decisions might be more constrained than it is actually necessary. Due to such different policy implications of these two types of opinions, this distinction between public opinions and domestic opinion is necessary. The interviews conducted during this fieldwork gave the student an idea about this peculiarity of public opinion in China.



[1] In June 2010 the number of Internet users in China was around 420 million (China Internet Network  Information Center. Accessed December 20, 2010. http://www.cnnic.net.cn/en/index/0O/index.htm.)

[2] James Reilly. 2008. gHarmonious World and Public Opinion in Chinafs Japan Policyh. In eHarmonious worldf and Chinafs New Foreign Policy, edited by Jean-Marc F. Blanchard and Sujian Guo. Lanham: Lexington Books, pp.189-223. P.192.

[3] East Asian Strategic Review 2006.  The National Institute for Defense Studies, Japan.p.105.

[4] Ibid, p.106.

[5] Alastair Iain Johnston. 2004. gChinese Middle Class Attitudes towards International Affairs: Nascent Liberalization?h China Quarterly 179: 603-628. P.626.

[6] Reilly, p.198.

[7] Leonard W. Doob. Public Opinion and Propaganda. New York: H.Holt, 1948. P.39.