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May 5, 2023

How China Sees America

Assessing How Chinese Foreign Policy Experts See the U.S. Through Text Analysis

Event Series: Chinese Politics and Economy Research Seminar Series

China Congress

How has the large community of Chinese international affairs experts viewed the United States over the past two decades, and how have major events affected their views of America? A group of scholars in the United States answered these questions by collecting an original corpus of Chinese writing on the United States, with over 18,000 articles written by 9,137 authors across 5,900 affiliations who published in over 3,000 journals. They then traced how these experts’ view of America has ebbed and flowed between 2000 and 2021, as well as how external shocks such as the 2001 EP-3 surveillance plane incident, the 2008 U.S. financial crisis, and the 2016 election of President Donald Trump have affected the views of different segments of China’s foreign policy expert community.

Join Victor Shih of the University of California, San Diego for a talk in which he shares the findings of this research. The scholars found that Chinese experts with different affiliations writing on different topics indeed reacted to these shocks in different ways. Experts in economics and finance, for example, reacted early on to the growing stress in the U.S. financial system. Experts close to central party and state organs, who had been gearing up for a more positive relationship with presidential candidate Hilary Clinton, dramatically turned negative on the United States after Trump’s surprising election in late 2016. Shih will also describe how as these experts wrote for different audiences, their sentiment moved differently in reaction to the same exogenous shocks.

This event is jointly sponsored by the Department of Government and the Initiative for U.S.-China Dialogue on Global Issues at Georgetown University. Light lunch will be provided.


Victor Shih is an associate professor of political economy and the Ho Miu Lam Chair in China and Pacific Relations at the University of California, San Diego. He is currently engaged in a study of the activities of the Chinese elite and of Chinese defense firms around the world. He is the author of two books published by the Cambridge University Press: Factions and Finance in China: Elite Conflict and Inflation (2012) and Coalitions of the Weak: Elite Politics in China from Mao’s Stratagem to the Rise of Xi (2022). He is also editor of Economic Shocks and Authoritarian Stability: Duration, Institutions and Financial Conditions (2020). Shih has published widely in a number of journals, including the American Political Science Review, Comparative Political Studies, Journal of Politics, The China Quarterly, and Party Politics.