Current Research

Dissertation: “Foreign Policy Discourse in Contemporary China”

My Ph.D. research and current book project centers on public opinion on the Chinese internet over foreign policy events. I ask when the public is more or less likely to challenge official positions, and in turn how agents of the state respond to such “divergent” public discourse. To answer these questions, I have gathered a sample of data from Chinese social media covering approximately 20 months and totaling hundreds of millions of individual posts. I combine large-scale computer-aided analysis of this data with qualitative reading of individual posts and media articles to argue that nationalist narratives and the initial response of the propaganda apparatus lie at the core of both public mood and the larger political response to such dissent.

Committee chair: Prof. Bruce Dickson, GWU

Working Papers

Compatriots or Collaborators?: Chinese Citizens’ Views of Muslim Minorities after the Kunming Attacks. With Allison Quatrini, GWU.

This paper examines online public discourse toward ethnic minorities in China in the wake of terrorist attacks. To what degree do such events alter public sentiment in relation to ethnic minorities? We investigate whether the public views minorities like Uygher citizens as national compatriots, who join in the rally-round-the-flag effect after an attack, or whether they regard these citizens as potential conspirators who present a threat to the nation. This research helps illuminate both the current state and likely trajectory of majority-minority relations in China.

Alliance Legacies in Korea: Foreign Patrons, Domestic Factions, and Alliance Institutionalization. With Inwook Kim, Hong Kong University.

Despite similar material and informational conditions, the US-ROK and China-DPRK alliances forged during the Korean War have evolved along divergent paths since the war’s end. The former’s integrated command continued in existence with US troops remaining in the ROK. In the latter, China returned operational command and left the DPRK by 1958. Why do countries in similar situations create diverse types of alliances? What determines varying levels of alliance institutionalization? Moving away from traditional realist explanations, we use a historical institutional approach to argue that contrasts in the effectiveness of the Soviet and American state-building strategies during the 1945-1948 occupation period, and the occupiers’ distinct relationships with elite factions, determined the Korean regimes’ later predisposition for certain types of alliance relationships. In the north, a chaotic and unresolved power consolidation process forced Kim Il Sung to be cautious in tightening relations with China, which supported his political rivals. In contrast, rapid consolidation in the south left Rhee Syngman more room for diplomatic maneuver. We draw on primary archival sources, and highlight the utility of historical institutionalist approaches in security studies.

Upcoming Presentations

Alliance Legacies in Korea: Foreign Patrons, Domestic Factions, and Alliance Institutionalization. Co-authored paper with Inwook Kim (Hong Kong University), part of the “Formal and Informal Alliances” panel. 2017 International Studies Association Annual Conference, Baltimore.

The presentation will take place at 4:00pm on Thursday, February 23rd at the Baltimore Convention Center (Room 326).

Recent Presentations

Online Foreign Policy Discourse in Contemporary China. 2016 American Political Science Association Annual Meeting, Philadelphia.


In addition to my primary research agenda concerning China’s public opinion, nationalism, and foreign affairs, I have been pleased to collaborate with Hong Kong University lecturer and GW Ph.D. Inwook Kim on other research in the field of international relations. While we have jointly developed our research questions and theory, my primary empirical contribution has been the quantitative analysis of relevant data. Our first published paper is linked below.

Gas on the Fire: Great Power Alliances and Petrostate Aggression
Inwook Kim; Jackson Woods
International Studies Perspectives 2016;
doi: 10.1093/isp/ekv004