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Harvard Extension School Thesis Proposal

Harvard Extension School Thesis Proposal

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Published by ilamont
Proposal for a Thesis in the Field of History in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Master of Liberal Arts Degree (accepted, but thesis director asked for me to go significantly beyond my early outline). By Ian Lamont, Harvard Extension School, ALM '08. http://harvardextended.com
Proposal for a Thesis in the Field of History in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Master of Liberal Arts Degree (accepted, but thesis director asked for me to go significantly beyond my early outline). By Ian Lamont, Harvard Extension School, ALM '08. http://harvardextended.com

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Published by: ilamont on Aug 25, 2008
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08/26/2012

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Proposal for a Thesis in the Field of Historyin Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Master of Liberal Arts DegreeHarvard University Extension SchoolFebruary 19, 2006Ian Lamont31 Arlington RoadWaltham, MA 02453(781) 373-1887ianlamont@yahoo.com
 
I.Tentative Title:“Chinese Policy Toward Vietnam during the Deng Xiaoping Era: Understanding theViews of Beijing’s Leading Nucleus through a Content Analysis of the New China NewsAgency”II.Research ProblemChina under Deng Xiaoping (1977-1993) had a difficult relationship with Vietnam.Relations between the two countries in the first 11 years of the Deng era were dominated by several contentious bilateral and multilateral issues, including the “boat people”tragedy, the Kampuchean conflict, and Hanoi’s close relationship with Moscow. In 1979and 1988 the military forces of China and Vietnam engaged in pitched battles in remote border areas and the South China Sea. By the early 1990s, and until Deng’s retirement in1993, however, the relationship had entered a cooling-off period, as Vietnam’s directinvolvement in the Kampuchean conflict ended and Soviet influence waned.These developments have been documented and subjected to analysis by scholars of modern Chinese and Southeast Asian history, international relations experts, militaryanalysts, and journalists. Yet their understanding of China’s attitudes toward and policiesinvolving Vietnam during this period are largely defined by qualitative research, based onthe two countries’ shared history, statements of Chinese diplomats, military deployments, bureaucratic actions, events, treaties, official documents, and other sources. Manyevaluate Sino-Vietnamese relations by focusing on single issues — territorial disputes,the treatment of ethnic Chinese in Vietnam, Soviet support for Vietnam. This type of 
 
research makes it difficult to gauge the relative importance to the Chinese leadership of various foreign influences on issues concerning Sino-Vietnamese relations.Is there any other way to study Chinese attitudes toward Vietnam? Can an empiricalmethodology be applied, in order to better understand the various factors that wereimportant to China during this period? If so, what Vietnam-related issues will be seen asmost important to China at various points in time, and which countries or other international groups does China associate with these issues?I intend to employ a computer-assisted text analysis of the English-language wireservice operated by the state-run New China News Agency to evaluate these questionsabout Sino-Vietnamese relations. I will measure, in aggregate, NCNA’s coverage — and, by extension, China’s interest in — those Vietnam-related issues that China associatedwith other Indochinese countries, the two superpowers, and two prominent international bodies, the United Nations and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. I aim to provide an empirical basis for understanding China’s complex relationship with Vietnamas it involved these countries and organizations during the Deng era.My hypothesis holds that of these countries and organizations, issues relating toKampuchea dominated China’s views of Vietnam from the late 1970s to the late 1980s. Ihypothesize that Vietnam receded in relevance to the Kampuchean conflict after Vietnam’s 1989 troop withdrawal from its neighbor, just as China came to see the United Nations as an important player in the Kampuchean conflict. My hypothesis also finds thatthe Soviet Union was not seen by China as a dominant factor in issues touching Vietnamor the Kampuchean conflict, with the exception of the first five years of the Deng period.Further, Chinese concerns regarding Soviet influence faded in the last five years of the

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