Handbook of US–China Relations
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Handbook of US–China Relations

Edited by Andrew T.H. Tan

This Handbook addresses the key questions surrounding US–China relations: what are the historical and contemporary contexts that underpin this complex relationship? How has the strategic rivalry between the two evolved? What are the key flashpoints in their relationship? What are the key security issues between the two powers? The international contributors explore the historical, political, economic, military, and international and regional spheres of the US–China relationship. The topics they discuss include human rights, Chinese public perception of the United States, US–China strategic rivalry, China’s defence build-up and cyber war.
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Chapter 7: Chinese public perception of the United States

Shiming Fan

Abstract

Conspiracy theories are prevalent in present-day China regarding the United States. Many people are highly vigilant about US intentions and behaviours, and perceive that the United States is shrewdly and intentionally making every effort to discredit, weaken and contain China, so that its own primacy and dominance are maintained. This chapter discusses psychological, socio-political and international factors in explaining the phenomenon. First, people tend to employ simple explanations rather than sophisticated, institutional analysis when they encounter sudden, mysterious, complicated events. Second, there is the domestic socio-political context including decreasing level of social trust, elite/interest group manipulations, rising nationalism, and the changing political atmosphere. Third, the state of bilateral US–China relations is also identified as a factor accounting for the popularity of conspiracy theories. The exaggeration of the influence and effects of conspiracy theories may lead to serious negative consequences in China and in its relations with the United States. It reinforces the enemy image, alienates the American and Chinese people, and shapes a detrimental atmosphere for governmental relations.

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