AAS Annual Meeting

Interarea/Border-Crossing Session 640

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Session 640: History, Activism and Protest: A Wider Lens on Popular Nationalism in Post-Mao China

Historical Memory, Public Opinion, and Regime Legitimacy: Constraints on Beijing’s Foreign Policy-Making
Ning Liao, New Jersey City University, USA

Beijing’s dual diplomatic images since the 1990s has evinced the contradiction between two facets of Chinese nationalism—the top-down official nationalism and the bottom-up popular nationalism. As the key component of official nationalism, patriotic education has served to construct the collective historical memory and fostered the popular support toward the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). While the appeal to patriotism has touched off the sense of victimhood derived from the traumatic national experience in modern Chinese history, the collective historical memory has engendered the mass ideology of parochial nationalism at the popular level. The anti-West sentiments immersed in the radical public opinion has transformed to a societal force that constitutes high audience costs to Beijing’s foreign policy-making. One the one hand, while the CCP leadership has to accommodate the nationalist demand, its foreign policies may be still regarded as too “harsh” in the international community. Viewed by the radicalized public opinion, on the other hand, Chinese government’s diplomatic profile may be criticized as unforgivably “soft” by liberal nationalists at home. As such, given the brittle domestic politics and the resurgence of nationalist sentiments, historical memory and public opinion, which are manipulated by the regime power and are supposed to enhance its legitimacy, can turn against its creator, leading to the inconsistency of Beijing’s foreign-making. Insofar as its neoliberal foreign policy is incompatible with its illiberal domestic politics, China has a long way to go for the international society to recognize its diplomatic legitimacy and accept it as a full-fledged “global citizen.”

“Don’t Be Too CNN!” A Broader Lens on Chinese Nationalism in 2008
Jessica Weiss, Cornell University, USA

This paper examines the outburst of Chinese nationalism surrounding the 2008 Beijing Olympics within the context of other instances of anti-foreign nationalism in China. In recent decades, Chinese authorities have alternately permitted and repressed grass-roots attempts to mobilize nationalist demonstrations. Anti-American protests were allowed in 1999 but prevented in 2001, whereas anti-Japanese protests were allowed in 2005 but repressed in 1990, 1996, and 2004. In 2008, Chinese protesters took aim at a new set of targets—targets without deep historical roots: France for suggesting a boycott of the Olympic Opening Ceremony, and Western media outlets such as CNN for distorting the “truth” about the Lhasa riots in March. Until 2008, France had been a “friend” to China in official parlance, and Western media outlets had been regarded as relatively credible news sources. Drawing upon dozens of personal interviews with nationalists, protesters, internet activists, scholars, and Chinese and French officials, the paper weaves together the domestic and international sequence of events surrounding the Lhasa riots and Olympic Games. The paper concludes by discussing the shifting locus of Chinese nationalism among mainland and overseas Chinese, the role of the Chinese government, and implications for Chinese diplomacy and assertiveness on the international stage.

Guarding the "Dear Leader": A Theoretical Debate on the Civil-Military Relations in North Korea
Dongmin Lee, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

This paper examines the nature of civilian control mechanism in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea). On the theoretical level, I utilized the conceptual lens of communist civil-military relations to closely observe at an important aspect of North Korea’s empirical development. The paper seeks to obtain comprehensive information on the Military Priority Policy as the DPRK is pursuing its Sungun Jungchi or Military Priority Policy as part of a new national ideology and economic policy. As understanding sources of military doctrine is significant indicator of state’s international intention and behavioral pattern, it is important to grasp the source of thinking and behavior. This process would include the analysis of forecasting post-Kim Jong-il era, and how the Korean People’s Army would react to leadership changes and the succession outcome. In this paper, I argue that the nature of the civil-military relations is characterized as Huntingtonian notion of subjective control mechanism which lends us important policy implications.

The Impact of Turkish Kemalism on the Indonesian Nationalist Movement
Chiara Formichi, Cornell University, USA

Discussions of the Indonesian nationalist movement often assess for the impact of Egyptian Islamic reformism and Ottoman pan-Islamism (Laffan 2003), Russia’s Communism (McVey 1969), or European secular self-determination theories (Anderson 1991). Yet, the influence of Kemal Ataturk’s secularization process is rarely singled out as a relevant source of inspiration for the internal debate. The author suggests that Ataturk’s abolishment of the Ottoman Caliphate in 1924, and the following secularizing reforms, had a double impact on the Indonesian nationalist movement: on the one hand it provided the emerging secular nationalists with solid ground to argue for the separation of ‘state and mosque’ as a successful way towards modernization and progress; on the other hand, concerns for the adoption of such measures fuelled Sarekat Islam (SI) and Persatuan Islam (Persis) propaganda for a new state-structure modeled on the koranic tradition. This paper presents the debate as it has emerged on the Indonesian press between the late 1920s and the early 1940s. This is pursued by analyzing the writings of Sukarno (founder of PNI, Perserikatan Nasional Indonesia and first president of the Indonesian Republic), Ahmad Hassan (founder of Persis), Muhammad Natsir (leading member of Jong Islamieten Bond and Persis), and S.M. Kartosuwiryo (leading member of SI and later founder of the Darul Islam).

Between Two Flags: Chinese Nationalism in Early Post-Independence Indonesia
Yew Foong Hui, Hong Kong Shue Yan University, Singapore

On December 27, 1949, the day that Indonesia assumed sovereignty and formally became independent from the Dutch, the Five-Stars Flag of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was raised in the Indonesian province of West Kalimantan. This was before Indonesia recognized the PRC, but local Chinese were already split between those who supported the PRC and those who supported the Kuomintang’s Republic of China (ROC) at Taiwan. Thus, inasmuch as Indonesia was evolving her own path of political self-determination in the early years of independence, the Chinese minority within this new nation-state was also searching for its own political identity. There were those who, like most other indigenous Indonesians, aspire to nothing less than the full privileges of Indonesian citizenship. On the other hand, there were parts of the Chinese community that considered China their homeland and point of political allegiance, and so were politically oriented either to the PRC or ROC. This paper examines these political identities that were in flux, as a result of the formation of new nation-states and the imposition of real and imagined political boundaries. I argue that the Chinese minority was politically dislocated due to the reification of these boundaries. At the same time, it is the ambiguities embedded in this era of nation-state formation that gave rise to the ambivalent position of the Chinese minority within the Indonesian national imaginary.

Teaching Nation, Teaching Diversity
Yasemin Soysal, University of Essex, United Kingdom

The paper explores how ‘diversity’ enters into, and depicted in, the teaching of citizenship in schools, bringing in examples from two Asian countries (China and Japan). The empirical data come from our ongoing comparative and longitudinal research on curricula and textbooks (intended for the 12-14 age group). We specifically focus on history and civics subjects, tracking the changes from 1945 until now. We organize our analysis under two analytical themes: 1) cosmopolitization of the nation and citizen, and 2) re-definition of diversity as ‘intercultural’ encounters. While the project of diversity has unmistakenly arrived in education, what is missing is its connection to the very ideals of citizenship, as originally formulated by TH Marshall. In conclusion, we reflect on the current dilemmas that East Asian countries are facing in addressing diversity.