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Publications

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TitleDo Contacts Matter? Public Impressions of a Rising China in Taiwan
作者Chung-li Wu
作者說明Research Fellow, Institute of Political Science at Academia Sinica
Abstract The emergence of China as a first-tier world power is a critical issue both politically and economically, but what is often overlooked is how more frequent interaction with China influences public opinion. This study is aimed at assessing two competing approaches, “contact” theory and “group threat” theory, in an effort to understand how exposure to and contact with China influence Taiwanese citizens’ impressions of China. More specifically, it focuses on how, as cross-Strait relations develop, the public in Taiwan may either have positive views or negative feelings toward China. Methodologically, in addition to the objective measurement of contact (exposure to China) employed in the previous literature, the paper uses a subjective measurement of contact (willingness to interact with China). This study analyzes both individual-level and aggregate-level datasets in the models; in doing this, it takes advantage of a 2014 nationwide telephone survey and considers the effects of the regional context. The findings demonstrate that the subjective measurement shows more variance in public opinion on China than the objective measure, and the contextual variables exert conditional influences upon Taiwanese people’s overall disposition toward China. The results by and large confirm the validity of contact theory, but also indicate that it is too simplistic and straightforward, and therefore in need of revision. The data reveal that greater exposure is not enough to foster greater trust and cooperation between the two sides; it is increased willingness to interact that creates more favorable impressions.
 
Keywords: rising China, contact theory, group threat theory, image of China,
social distance
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