Foreign Military Aggression and Revolution: The Rise of Communism in China
The 20th century saw simultaneous rises of communist and nationalism in many counties like Russia, Chile and China. What role (if any) did nationalism play in the process of communist revolution? We study this questions in the context of China of the 1930s and 1940s when a new nationalism awakened among Chinese in the sense of national salvation against the Japanese military invasion. We collect new data on the number of civilians murdered by the Japanese Army during the Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945) and use the wartime boundary of Japanese controlled areas as a spatial RD design. Counties with 1% higher civilian mortality—a proxy for nationalism—saw 0.67% higher density of communist cadres originated from the same county in the post-war period and 0.74% higher probability of being a guerrilla base during the war. Further analysis on the effect of wartime sex crime including rape and comfort women suggests the motivation of peasants to support the CCP had more to do with hatred to intruders than fear for survival. Moreover, effect of nationalism was aided by strength of the Party’s local propaganda and weakened if the regional could received the wartime broadcast of the KMT government. Interestingly, war-led nationalism persists in China today, resulting in higher trust in government and lower support for political liberalism.

Dr. Ting Chen is an assistant professor at the Department of Economics, Hong Kong Baptist University. She completed her PhD from the Division of Social Science Division at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in 2015. Principle research areas include the political economy of local official’s turnover, corruption in China’s land market, business-politician revolving door and the institutional persistence of the civil exam system. And her research has been published at the Quarterly Journal of Economics, Journal of Econometrics and Journal of Development Economics.

Faculty host: Li Han (
Speaker(s) Dr Ting Chen
Hong Kong Baptist University
Date 23 Sep 2019 (Monday)
Time 12:00 - 1:30 pm
Venue Room 3301 (via lifts 17-18), Academic Building, HKUST
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
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