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Going Public Strategies with Chinese Characteristics

Yue Zou, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This dissertation explains the variation in China’s resolve-signaling strategies (going public and going private) and its effectiveness in targeting both international and domestic audiences. The dissertation proposes to study signaling strategies as a two-level game that takes into account both international and domestic level factors shaping leaders’ signaling strategies. I examine the variation in China’s resolve-signaling strategies by focusing on signaling strategies used in each militarized interstate disputes (MID) in the post-Mao era. I find that, when leadership undergoes a factional struggle or when leaders cannot risk losing its nationalist credential when they confront with the high level of foreign hostility from their rivals, China is more likely respond to the MID by issuing resolved public threats against foreign states. Studying signaling strategies used to manage bilateral relations between the US and China over time, I conclude that public threats have not been used as a statecraft tool to strategically manage hostile rivalry behavior and to advance China’s foreign policy interests. Instead, the decision of Chinese leaders to go public with threats against the United States is mainly influenced by their concerns about party legitimacy at the domestic level. Next, the dissertation evaluates the outcomes of China’s signaling strategy. It challenges the democratic credibility theory and it finds that public threats issued by China were able to effectively signal China’s commitment to follow through and successfully compel targeted states to make concessions.

Subject Area

International Relations|Political science

Recommended Citation

Zou, Yue, "Going Public Strategies with Chinese Characteristics" (2019). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI13862645.