Killing Protests with Kindness: Anti-China Protests and China's Public Diplomacy

Yujeong Yang, Sanghoon Kim-Leffingwell, Shuyuan Shen, Do Young Gong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Anti-China protests have posed challenges to China's ambition to further expand its political and economic influence globally. How does Beijing respond to anti-China protests? And how do anti-China protests affect Beijing's use of public diplomatic resources? We address these questions by examining the effect of anti-China protests on China's public diplomatic engagement across low- and middle-income countries in Asia. We argue that anti-China protests lead to an increased level of non-financial public diplomatic engagement (e.g., elite visits) as well as financial engagement through foreign aid. We further argue that the effect of anti-China protests on increasing public diplomatic engagement is contingent on regime type. This is because China takes the anti-China message from autocracies more seriously given the higher political costs of participating in public protests in autocracies. Compared to democracies, autocracies are also in a better position to use anti-China protests as a means to signal their political constraints, compelling China to invest more public diplomatic resources for the countries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbersqad087
JournalInternational Studies Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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