Anti-Japanese Sentiment among Chinese University Students: The Influence of Contemporary Nationalist Propaganda

Min Zhou, Hanning Wang

Abstract


This study looks at the sources of anti-Japanese sentiment in today’s China. Using original survey data collected in June 2014 from 1,458 students at three elite universities in Beijing, we quantitatively investigate which factors are associated with stronger anti-Japanese sentiment among elite university students. In particular, we examine the link between the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s nationalist propaganda (especially patriotic education) and university students’ anti-Japanese sentiment. We find that nationalist propaganda does indeed have a significant effect on negative sentiment towards Japan. Reliance on state-sanctioned textbooks for information about Japan, visiting museums and memorials or watching television programmes and movies relating to the War of Resistance against Japan are all associated with higher levels of anti-Japanese sentiment. The findings suggest the effectiveness of nationalist propaganda in promoting anti-Japanese sentiment. We also find that alternative sources of information, especially personal contact with Japan, can mitigate anti-Japanese sentiment. Thus, visiting Japan and knowing Japanese people in person can potentially offset some of the influences of nationalist propaganda.

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