Japanese Journal of Political Science

Research Article

Charmed by China? Popular Perceptions of Chinese Influence in Asia

TRAVIS NELSONa1 and MATTHEW CARLSONa2

a1 Department of Political Science, University of Wisconsin-Platteville nelsontra@uwplatt.edu

a2 Department of Political Science, University of Vermont Matthew.Carlson@uvm.edu

Abstract

Chinese influence in Asia is complicated by many factors. There are those who argue that China's growing military and economic power make this influence an automatic threat, while others maintain that China's recent attempts at a ‘charm offensive’ mute this threat and have succeeded in creating a positive image for many of its regional neighbors. Drawing on survey data collected across 23 countries, we enter this debate by asking what individuals in and across Asia think about Chinese influence. Do they see this influence as positive or negative? What factors at the individual and national levels most clearly shape their perceptions? Using multilevel statistical analysis, we find that Asian opinions of Chinese influence are on the whole quite positive and are influenced by a range of factors, including foreign policy interest, national identification, foreign contact, and recent military conflict.