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Authoritarian Signaling, Mass Audiences, and Nationalist Protest in China

Former China and the World Fellow Jessica Chen Weiss recently published the lead article in International Organization entitled, "Authoritarian Signaling, Mass Audiences, and Nationalist Protest in China."  She explains how authoritarian states credibly signal their intentions in international crises. Nationalist, antiforeign protests are one mechanism by which authoritarian leaders can visibly demonstrate their domestic vulnerability. Because protests in authoritarian states are risky and costly to repress, the decision to allow or stifle popular mobilization is informative. The threat of instability demonstrates resolve, and the cost of concession increases the credibility of a tough stance. The danger of instability and escalation increases foreign incentives to make concessions and preserve the status quo. This logic helps explain the pattern of authoritarian tolerance and repression toward nationalist protest. The article analyzes China's management of anti-American demonstrations in two recent crises, the 2001 EP-3 incident and 1999 bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade. The article may be found here: