Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


International Relations

Second Department

Asian Studies

Reader 1

Terril Jones

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© 2016 Kiana VH Mendoza


The Chinese Communist Party’s legitimacy is crumbling within China. The government’s approach to policy making, ethnic minorities, corruption, and the environment has not satisfied citizens. Rather, as the CCP fails to address each of these domestic concerns the population grows increasingly skeptical, even critical of their ability to lead. In order to counter and distract from this dissatisfaction, the CCP is driven towards an increasingly active foreign policy. The CCP has curated a Chinese brand of nationalism founded in the “Century of Humiliation.” By providing constant reminders of the atrocities suffered at the hands of foreign invaders, the government’s intent is to establish an “us versus them” mentality that unites Chinese citizens not against the CCP, but against other countries. In the East China Sea, China has managed to incite tensions over the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands without aggressive military action; rather, a government-established history and well-placed propaganda has mobilized Chinese citizens against Japan. In the South China Sea, the CCP has been able to justify its military buildup by claiming historical and legal right to the area. By pointing out the multilateral institutions that have come together in the interest of combating China’s supposed “peaceful rise,” the CCP is able to justify its salami tactics in the region as self-defense. By finding enemies in Japan and South China Sea countries, the CCP is able to act as the righteous defender of China abroad, solidifying its approval and legitimacy with citizens.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.