Esther Song

Air Pollution Coverage, Anti-Chinese Sentiment, and Attitudes Towards Foreign Policy in South Korea

Journal of Chinese Political Science | 2023

  • Abstract

    Air pollutants allegedly originating from China have become a thorny issue in South Korea. Despite a neutral view of the topic from the South Korean government, recent public polls show a high correlation between the air pollution issue and negative sentiment toward China. How has the media reported on China regarding air pollutants in South Korea? What is the effect of media reports on air pollution on anti-Chinese sentiment and foreign policy attitudes? By examining news headlines and Twitter data between 2015 and 2018, this work finds that media reports blaming China for air pollution doubled during the 2015–2018 period. Discourse surrounding air pollution also shifted: anti-Chinese sentiment directed at both the Chinese government and the Chinese people increased in 2018 compared to 2015. In addition, an original online survey experiment shows that China-blaming articles have a causal effect on increasing anti-Chinese sentiment, particularly toward Chinese people, and that this effect is moderated by age group. China-blaming articles have also had negative effects on foreign policy attitudes via increased anti-Chinese sentiment; increased negative sentiment toward the Chinese people is found to have a causal effect on decreasing support for strengthening relations with China.


    Journal of Chinese Political Science








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