Changes In Chinese Perceptions And Attitudes In The Sino-Soviet Conflict After The Death Of Mao Zedong As Revealed In Public Statements And The News Media

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Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Data were gathered by content analysis from Chinese media statements from 1972 through 1975 and 1977 through 1980. These data were used to determine (1) what principal factors in the Sino-Soviet conflict appeared in the Chinese media before and after the death of Mao Zedong, (2) if there was any difference in the level of hostility in Chinese public statements before and after Mao's death, and (3) if there was any relation between these hostility levels and the historical context of the conflict. It was found that Chinese perceptions of Soviet aggression were the prime factor before and after Mao's death, but the period prior to his death was marked by a higher level of ideological rhetoric. In fact from 1972 through 1975 Soviet aggression steadily declined in importance as a factor while ideology increased in importance, and from 1977 through 1980 the aggression factor increased in importance and became the only significant by 1980 while the ideology factor disappeared. The level of verbal hostility was found to decrease slightly after Mao's death, but it was found to be statistically insignificant. The relationship of verbal hostility to historical events was found to exist in a most unexpected way: when Soviet activity opposed a client state or ally of China and posed an indirect threat to China, the level of verbal hostility increased as a warning to the Soviets, but when it was a direct attack on China, the level of hostility decreased in order to allow the crisis to cool down. The conclusion was drawn from this is that the Sino-Soviet conflict has developed institutionalized parameters within which conflict and hostility are expected and tolerated. When the parameters are breeched, the shift in verbal hostility acts as a control to keep the conflict within acceptable boundaries.


Political Science, International Law and Relations

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