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Making a Case for Quantitative Research in the Study of Modern Chinese History: The New China News Agency and Chinese Policy Views of Vietnam, 1977-1993

Making a Case for Quantitative Research in the Study of Modern Chinese History: The New China News Agency and Chinese Policy Views of Vietnam, 1977-1993

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Published by ilamont
Ian Lamont's master's thesis -- a computer-assisted content analysis of Xinhua News Agency content during the Deng Xiaoping era.
Ian Lamont's master's thesis -- a computer-assisted content analysis of Xinhua News Agency content during the Deng Xiaoping era.

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Published by: ilamont on Nov 23, 2008
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05/09/2014

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 Making a Case for Quantitative Researchin the Study of Modern Chinese History:The New China News Agency andChinese Policy Views of Vietnam, 1977-1993Ian LamontA Thesis in the Field of Historyfor the Degree of Master of Liberal Arts in Extension StudiesHarvard UniversityMarch 2008
 
 © 2007 Ian Lamont
 
 AbstractScholarly appraisals of China’s post-1949 foreign policy have been largely shaped by qualitative research, using techniques such as “Beijingology” and the selectivecitations of primary and secondary sources. While helpful in conducting inquiries intocertain historical trends and policy issues, qualitative methodologies are susceptible toresearcher bias, and can lead to disagreement over the relative importance of differentfactors in shaping Chinese policy. This thesis asks whether a rigorous quantitativemethodology can more effectively highlight trends and answer questions relating tomodern Chinese history and government policy. Specifically, can a computer contentanalysis (CCA) based on news published by the state-run New China News Agency(NCNA) provide an accurate gauge of the international outlook of the Chineseleadership? This study establishes the reliability and effectiveness of quantitative,computer-driven historical research by undertaking a three-stage CCA of NCNA contentconcerning a specific topic: Beijing’s official views of Vietnam during the DengXiaoping era. The data from the CCA also answers an academic question framed by thequalitative research of Robert S. Ross and Charles McGregor: During the 1980s, wasChina’s central leadership primarily concerned with Hanoi’s military and economicalliance with Moscow, and the potential for Soviet encirclement of China? Or wasBeijing more worried about Vietnam’s regional ambitions in Southeast Asia? The CCAresults clearly support the regionally themed thesis outlined by McGregor, while castingdoubt upon the Soviet-focused findings of Ross. Not only was NCNA coverage of 

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